The news that Arrow Truck Sales, a division of the Volvo Group, is coming to Floyd to build a truck component remanufacturing plant in the Branwick Center, dominated lunch table conversation Tuesday with most saying “Thank God” that the county had found a use for the cavernous shell building on Christiansburg Pike and some wondering why the big announcement meant “only 25 jobs’ for the county.
At a time when other areas of Southwestern Virginia are announcing large factories with hundreds of jobs, the news that 25 new jobs are coming to Floyd may seem puny at first. Stuart has added 10 times that amount with two announcements in the past month.
But, as in any venture, we are talking economies of scale. The Branwick Center, while large by Floyd County standards, is really not that large of a building when it comes to industrial space. Plus, we are talking about a business that is, for the most part, largely automated.
Yes, 25 jobs may seem small but those 25 jobs are ones that didn’t exist on Monday of this week. They could represent 25 people who no longer will have to spend 45 minutes or more on the road each day to reach a job in Roanoke or the New River Valley. Or they could represent 25 younger residents of our county who won’t have to leave after high school graduation to find work elsewhere.
Those 25 jobs represent people who will have money to spend here at home on groceries, gas, hardware and meals at local restaurants. Their employer will pay taxes and, hopefully, become a good corporate citizen that contributes generously to local organizations.
If the plant is successful, it will expand and those 25 jobs that exist in 2007 could be 30 jobs the following year and 35 jobs the year after that.
Floyd County faced the budget-busting prospect of having to shell out $2.8 million to buy the building next year. Enticing Arrow to come to Floyd will still add costs to the budget — $242,000 in rent subsidies over the next five years and another $250,000 in modifications ot the building but Arrow has promised a multi-million investment in the county. If it doesn’t work out, the county will still have to buy the building five years down the road but, like all business ventures, it is a gamble.
In business, nothing can — or for that matter should — come easy. There are gambles, and tradeoffs, and cost. But I would rather see my tax money used to try and fail than to simply give up.
Even for just 25 jobs.