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category: Letters, date: 2016-08-16, by Gregg Hubner
Economic Development
Letter to the editor from Gregg Hubner August 15, 2016

There’s been a lot of talk about "economic development" as being a big reason to build Prevailing Winds. Have you followed the biggest "economic development" scandal in recent times? Construction on Northern Beef Packers in Aberdeen was started in 2006. It cost $150 million to build; it went from the original ownership to a Korean firm, then into bankruptcy then was bought by White Oak Global Advisors in 2013 for 44.3 million dollars. The state of South Dakota reports that 4.4 million dollars of our taxpayer money went into the failed plant. There was 167 million lost is state subsidies and private capital including 95 million in EB-5 money. They built it to kill 1500 fat cattle a day, and now after 10 years, we have a dead South Dakota "economic development" official who embezzled $550,000 (taxpayer money also) and they are killing around 20-50 cows a day. But the Governor's last response to this failed tax scam was "I'm hoping they'll get up and running and demonstrate that they will be a good resource for cattle feeders in the Aberdeen area within driving distance."

As all farmers know, our net incomes can fluctuate by hundreds of thousands of dollars because of yields and prices. Let's just take an average (some would consider this small) farmer that has 500 acres of corn and 500 acres of beans. In a year of lower prices, let's use $3 for corn and $8 for beans, and we have gross revenue of $385,000 (40 bushel beans 150 bushel corn). In the best years at $7 for corn and $15 for beans, the gross revenue would be $825,000. So a farmer's gross income can vary by $440,000 per year. So this same farmer has a wind turbine on his ground that gives him maybe $5000 a year (after taxes). Is this going to save him from financial ruin? In the good years that's less than a wagon load of beans. Some farmers spill more than that. Let's go one step further. You remember the 2012/2013 years, the best years a farmer has ever seen in his life. That gross revenue was at an all-time high. Where was the so called economic development from all that money? How many new businesses started in Avon or Tripp in those good years? If you had $5000 extra from a wind turbine and drove into Avon to spend it, what would you buy? Promoters of Prevailing Winds think that tax subsidies and crony capitalism equals economic development. True economic development takes people living in the community, people filling up houses, paying taxes, putting kids in school, and working in the local area. A giant wind turbine electrical grid is going to drive people out of our community, as the farm houses become vacant, they will stay vacant. I remember maybe 30 years ago or better there was an "economic development" meeting in Avon. Frank Kloucek had another great idea at that time; I think it was a dog food plant. I remember Sandy Pier standing up in opposition and her remarks never left me. She said: "We like Avon just the way it is". At that time I disagreed with her. 30 some years later, I understand her statement. We live in a priceless paradise. Well, they never built the dog food plant, the school never closed, and we still live in paradise, so far.

Gregg Hubner
Avon, SD

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