StarKist plans applauded by Chamber of Commerce Chairman
Chamber of Commerce chairman David Robinson applauds the decision by StarKist Co., not to build a cold storage facility in the town area, and is also pleased with the company’s plan to expand local operations, which will mean more local jobs.
As reported by Samoa News on Monday, ASG and StarKist are looking to identify a new site for StarKist Samoa to build its proposed cold storage facility, which was initially planned for the approximately 42,000 square foot parcel that lies directly between the Port Administration building and the inter-island dock.
“It is pleasing to note that Starkist management has decided against the proposed construction of a cold storage facility on the main dock in town and now favors negotiating with authorities for a suitable site in Satala,” said Robinson, who was among the critics of the initial plan announced by the Togiola Administration in 2011.
Robinson, who is also vice chairman of the American Samoa Shipyard Service Authority, supported moving the facility to Satala, around the shipyard area.
The cold storage plant as well as the cannery’s local plans for expansion were discussed during a meeting last week between Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and officials of StarKist.
“The Chamber is pleased to hear of StarKist plans which could lead to the hiring of additional staff due to the proposed expansion of their production facilities,” said Robinson
StarKist spokesperson Mary Sestric said last week that the plant expansion discussed with the governor “reflected potential plans, and is dependent on a number of significant factors, both at the plant and company level.”
“Whilst there are some issues to be resolved and considered in any new plan such as the minimum wage and the federal 30A tax benefit,” Robinson says, “the federal 30A Tax benefit increased job creation is a major part of the new Administration's plans to reach out to the private sector by strengthening working partnerships.”
“The Chamber is most supportive of this initiative and it will do all it can to provide any assistance required in order to achieve the objective of having as many people employed in the workforce as is practical.”
Lolo said he will appoint a task force to focus its attention on preparing a comprehensive justification package to petition the U.S. Congress through Congressman Faleomavaega Eni “to settle the minimum wage issue once and for all by reverting to the traditional practice of reviewing our minimum wage with control granted to American Samoa.”
“This is a disincentive and a deterrent to American Samoa’s efforts connected with attracting foreign investment,” he said.
Prior to the federal mandate of automatic wage hikes for American Samoa, the U.S. Department of Labor had appointed a special industry committee to review local wages taking into consideration local economic conditions.
Local leaders, including former Gov. Togiola Tulafono, support returning to the special industry committee. Currently the next minimum wage hike is set for September 2015, after it was deferred twice, by Congress.
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