Home Business Before closing the plant last September, FreightCar America received a $ 10...

Before closing the plant last September, FreightCar America received a $ 10 million loan.

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BARTON, AL (WAFF) – In September 2020, FreightCar America announced the closure of its Barton plant. This week, our media partners at The Times Daily confirmed that FreightCar America had received a $ 10 million payroll protection loan during the pandemic before the company left town.

According to a ProPublica report, the $ 10 million was the maximum available under a pandemic relief program designed to keep industry doors open and keep workers busy. The timing of the loan was puzzling given how quickly the company closed production and moved to Mexico in September 2020.

Kevin Jackson, president of the Shoals Economic Development Authority, said there was nothing local officials could do after hearing the news, but he hoped federal officials would take over the company to get the money back.

“We learned about the PPP loan when it became known,” Jackson said. “I don’t think we were deceived, but I hope the feds really demand payment from them.”

News of the loan also raised eyebrows in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where FreightCar American was formerly located before moving its manufacturing facility to Colbert County.

State Representative Frank Burns shared the story on his Facebook page on Thursday.

“Every penny of this loan must be paid back immediately and then used to help companies that truly care about American workers,” Burns said in his post.

U.S. Senator Mo Brooks declined to comment when his office was contacted by TimesDaily.

FreightCar America CEO Jim Meyer told ProPublica he had no intention of closing the plant after receiving the PPP money. He said the money allowed the firm to keep workers at work throughout 2020, when work orders plummeted.

The timing of the loan is not the only stumbling block.

PPP loans were for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

Jackson said that FreightCar America once hired up to 1,000 people at the Colbert County plant prior to several rounds of layoffs.

He said that in September, when production was moved to Castanos, Mexico, the plant employed about 500 people.

Read the full text of our partners’ news in Times Daily.

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