Severstal has estimated that this new investment will create more than 2,500 construction jobs and some 260 permanent new manufacturing jobs in Michigan – employing skilled workers desperately needing these jobs during tough economic times.
It appears that the opposition to this sensible new loan has arisen because it involves a Russian company investing in America. In today’s global economy, inward foreign investment that can create high-wage U.S. jobs is an increasing necessity. Recently, Areva, a nuclear services company owned by the French government, received a similar Department of Energy loan guarantee for an enrichment facility in Idaho without controversy, thereby creating needed investment and jobs in that state.
Sound new international investments of this kind are needed in all 50 states. While we may have occasional differences with the Russian government on international issues, as we do with all governments, there is no evidence that Russian companies operating in the United States have not performed well or should be subject to special government agency scrutiny beyond the normal commercial due diligence that applies to all international companies. Moreover, we have seen the real benefits of U.S.-Russian cooperation in the space program and other important areas as well.
Russia has long been a reliable partner to the United States in endeavors from energy cooperation to space exploration. For example, through the Megatons to Megawatts program, Russia has partnered with the United States over almost two decades to recycle uranium from Russian nuclear warheads into fuel.
That recycled uranium now supplies half of all the nuclear fuel used by American power plants across our country. This is critically needed energy that keeps the lights on for millions of Americans every day. Today, one in ten American homes, schools, businesses and hospitals receives electricity through this vital program.
The recently completed agreement on civil nuclear cooperation, known as a 123 Agreement, will open new opportunities for long-term U.S.- Russia civil nuclear cooperation. This will mean new commercial opportunities for U.S. industry, higher safety standards and enhanced cooperation on important global nuclear nonproliferation goals.
American politicians should embrace the advanced technologies and direct economic benefits that closer cooperation with our international partners can now bring to the United States.
We all know our American economy is struggling. Elected officials need to welcome serious, job-creating international investment in our country. All 50 states can benefit from these international companies that respond to state and federal incentives ̶ and then invest directly in expanded U.S. operations and American jobs.
Donald W. Riegle Jr. is a former Michigan senator and served six years as chairman of the senate committee on banking, housing, and urban affair.