The Frito-Lay plant in Casa Grande could increase its work force by up to 60 with the help of an economic development loan from the county and state that may not have to be repaid.
According to Pinal County Economic Development Director Tim Kanavel, about two years ago the company applied for a matching grant/loan from the county and state through the Arizona Commerce and Economic Development Commission. However, any decision about whether to approve the request got derailed while the state awaited a decision in the Turken v. Gordon case, which involved aid to businesses.During that two-year period when the decision was put on hold, Frito-Lay went ahead with a plant expansion in 2008-09 without the benefit of the county/state grant/loan, he said.
Kanavel said the purpose of such a grant/loan — the amount of which has yet to be decided — would be to give the Frito-Lay Casa Grande plant money it could use to “leverage” and obtain other economic development grant money, possibly from the federal government, for job creation.
“The loan would provide a good return on our investment because job creation is a county priority,” Kanavel said. “This would be a direct investment in job creation.”
The Arizona Department of Commerce and the state commission did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Frito-Lay spokeswoman Aurora Gonzalez said company representatives have talked to the county about the economic development grant.
“From our end [there is] not much to say because there is still more due diligence and analysis we need to do on our end, e.g., we’re not sure how we would apply the grant if we were to take it,” Gonzalez said.
She said the plant has about 380 employees and she believes the current grant proposal stipulates maintaining a total employee base of 440 over a certain period of time, but she is not certain.