Taking the right steps to ensure PIDC’s future

OWNING STOCK IN THE Plymouth Industrial Development Corp. has been, in many ways, like owning stock in the Green Bay Packers.

The PIDC stock has never grown in value from its original equivalent of $1 a share, and it has never paid a single dividend to stockholders over the past 47 years.

The corporation was created in 1966 in the aftermath of a state Supreme Court ruling that declared the city’s industrial expansion ordinance, adopted a decade earlier in 1956, unconstitutional.

Under that industrial expansion plan, Plymouth Utilities added a fee to the bills of all city residents to create an industrial expansion fund.

When the state’s highest court ruled that unconstitutional, it allowed the city to keep the funds it had collected, but use it to create the Plymouth Industrial Corp. to purchase, own and sell land for industrial development.

Each resident who had paid the industrial expansion fee was granted shares of stock in the new corporation. A huge portion of those shares were never even claimed, while ownership of many other shares is lost or unknown.

Over the past several decades, attorney Mel Blanke has purchased some 2,500 shares of PIDC stock from estates and private individuals, making him by far the largest shareholder in the corporation.

Blanke has been the driving force behind the PIDC’s success over the past several decades fostering industrial development in the city. The PIDC has purchased and developed land in three different industrial parks in that time, bringing numerous industries and hundreds of jobs to the city and area.

But he cannot be relied upon to carry on the PIDC’s work forever and, with no one else holding more than a few shares of stock at present, the corporation’s future could be uncertain at best, with much development work still left to be done in the newest industrial park at County PP and Willow Road.

That’s why the decision by the Redevelopment Authority last week to purchase 500 shares of stock from Blanke is a wise one.

That immediately makes the RDA a major stockholder in the PIDC, with the ability under the corporation’s by-laws to call meetings and have a voice in the PIDC’s business.

The RDA is the perfect agency to entrust with the future of industrial development in Plymouth.

Still unsettled, however, is the tens of thousands of shares of stock in the PIDC which remain unclaimed or unaccounted for.

It will take some legal maneuvering and significant detective work to clear up the status of all that stock and resolve the issue in a way that leaves the city in control of its own industrial destiny.

Finding those answers and solving those issues will ensure that Plymouth’s industrial development continues the same kind of winning record the Packers enjoy year in and year out.

At issue:
New PACC agreement
Bottom line:
Need to find common ground

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