At the end of April, I traveled to Mississippi to learn more about the Greentech car company. The company was founded by the Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic Nominee for Governor of Virginia.
Our three part investigation into Greentech aired in early May and revealed that even though Greentech continues to operate, and has met all of the benchmarks it was required to remain qualified for government loans designed to jump start the production, it's early effort has fallen well short of what McAuliffe himself predicted.
We sat down for a lengthy interview with McAuliffe at the time where he responded to much of what we discovered.
We worked with our sister station WMC Action 5 News in Memphis to produce the story and since our story has aired, WMC has continued to track the progress of Greentech. (Tunica County, MS where Greentech is working to get off the ground is located in the Memphis television market.)
WMC Reporter Michael Clark filed his story on Greentech last night. Here is a look at the project from the perspective of the people living in that community.
TUNICA, MS (WMC-TV) - An upstart electric car company made the promise of providing hundreds of new jobs in North Mississippi almost one year ago. Taxpayers helped foot the bill to land Greentech Automotive, and now they want a return on their investment.
With one of the worst unemployment rates in the country, many people in Mississippi need every opportunity they can get.
When a company commits to creating hundreds of jobs, it gets people's attention.
It was an announcement that felt more like a party as the guest list included former President Bill Clinton, former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, and former Greentech Automotive chairman Terry McAuliffe.
They all had big plans for Greentech Automotive to create electric cars, and more importantly jobs in north Mississippi.
"This is all creating jobs in the United States of America, it's a new technology," said McAuliffe at the time. "You know it's not easy to start a car company, but we're making them, we're selling them, and it's good for America."
One year later and the party is over, people want to know where the jobs are.
Terry McAuliffe is no longer with the company. He is now running for Governor of Virginia.
Now model cars are gone from outside of the plant. The only evidence Action News 5 investigators found of any electric car production were a couple of cars whizzing around the parking lot after our crew started filming.
Based on last year's announcement this facility should be booming by now.
"If I can be successful and make 10,000 cars in the next 12 months in Horn Lake and then ship them over to Denmark, that's a huge win for me the company, and most importantly Mississippi," said McAuliffe in July 2012.
For months, the Action News 5 Investigators asked to get back inside Greentech to see the operation and the Mid-Southerners hired to fill those promised positions. Greentech Vice President Marianne McInerney denied our requests each time, but share 78 employees worked inside.
Late in the spring, the company announced plans for a new $25,000 sedan to be built before moving production to another facility in Tunica County – a facility that came with its own set of promises.
Overgrown grass surrounds the gravel lot of the $60 million dollar investment in Tunica. Greentech had hoped to finish the facility in Tunica by the end of this year. McInerney said they are shooting for early 2014.
In addition to the WMC report, The Memphis Commercial Appeal also did a story on the progress of Greentech. In their story, Lyn Arnold the local leader who helped to lure Greentech to Tunica County claims that part of the progress has been stunted because foreign investment money through the EB-5 program is being held up.
Arnold, who was the local face of the Greentech project in the early stages, has refused all attempts NBC12 and WMC has made to interview her.
In both the Commerical Appeal story and the WMC story, Greentech vows hat they are still on track to be up and running at the Tunica facility, which remains an empty field, by the end of 2014.