"We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to bring a project to Pennsylvania that will be the single largest industrial investment in the state in more than a generation," Corbett said at a Capitol news conference. "We are investing in a new industrial revolution and we are investing in the opportunity for thousands of Pennsylvanians to have a good job."
By Wednesday night, legislative leaders in effect answered his call. At a joint news conference with Corbett to tout progress on budget negotiations, they said they had a deal on tax credits for Shell that will be approved before the summer break.
Corbett's proposal calls for Shell to receive $66 million a year in tax credits over 25 years, beginning when the so-called cracker plant is scheduled to open, in 2017. Neither the governor nor legislators was offering details Wednesday night of whether the numbers had changed in budget negotiations.
The budget deadline is June 30. After that, the legislature typically breaks for summer.
The Shell plant, to be built in Beaver County, would turn a by-product of the Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling into ethylene - used in plastic products from tires and shoe soles to carpet backing and soft-drink bottles. The plant is projected to create 10,000 temporary construction jobs and employ 400 full-time workers.
State and industry sources predict that as many as 17,000 spin-off jobs would be created across the state. The facility and related industries are predicted to generate as much as $400 million in federal and state tax revenue, not counting the reductions for the proposed tax credits.
Corbett brushed aside critics' suggestions that the incentive package - which also includes a 15-year tax exemption via a state-sponsored Keystone Opportunity Zone - amounts to corporate welfare.
He said the incentives are needed to ensure that Shell locates in Pennsylvania - in a historic manufacturing region that lost tens of thousands of jobs with the collapse of the steel industry.
"For the general public, that might be hard to understand because ... they think we're giving money to them," Corbett said. "No, we're not. What we're saying is, 'You build it. You provide all these jobs for all these people, and we'll take a little bit less money from you so that we have more money for us.' "
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