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Sen. Mark Warner wants to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States with a federal economic development incentive for distressed localities such as the Dan River Region.

Warner was in Danville on Monday afternoon to announce his proposal of the America Recruits Act of 2010, a bill that would provide federal loans of up to $10,000 per job to localities to help attract businesses to the United States. Warner made the announcement at Essel Propack, an international plastic tube company that he helped bring to Danville while serving as governor.

Targeting economically-depressed areas such as Southside, the U.S. Department of Commerce would create and administer Warner’s proposed federal loan program to provide an additional incentive for companies creating IT and manufacturing jobs.

“What I wanna add is an additional tool in the toolbox,” Warner said. “… And allow us in this community to compete against a Korea, a Canada.”

The federal government currently does not supplement economic development deals, Warner said. The proposed legislation would not allow federal government to play a role in picking projects — that would remain up to localities, he said.

“We’ve seen too many jobs in the last decade go abroad,” Warner said. “It’s time … to bring them back in.”

According to a news release from Warner’s office, the estimated $40 million cost of the program would be offset in three to five years by the economic activity generated by the new jobs. For example, a job with a $50,000 salary results in nearly $6,000 in annual federal and state sales and income taxes.

“This is not gonna be a silver bullet that will solve all problems,” he said, “but it will be another tool.”

Warner’s announcement was greeted by applause from the group of government and business leaders from Danville and Pittsylvania County. Warner said the proposal has also been “greeted favorably by the Obama administration” and the congressional leadership. Warner plans to introduce the legislation toward the end of next week once the Senate is back in session.

“I think this is why we sent you to Washington,” Pittsylvania Board of Supervisors Chairman Hank Davis said to Warner during his remarks.

“I think what he’s proposing is fantastic and I hope it goes through,” Davis said afterward. “It just gives us that much more buying power to be competing with foreign countries.”

Jeremy Stratton, director of Danville’s Department of Economic Development, supported the idea. “We’re not competing against North Carolina,” Stratton said. We’re competing against Poland, against China. Any advantage will help us.”

After suffering significant job losses in textiles and tobacco, Danville’s economic development team is seeking businesses in six target sectors — pharmaceuticals, automotive energy, polymers/plastics, food/beverage, aerospace and information technology.

“A lot of our traditional jobs have left the (Dan River) region,” Warner said after his announcement. “This community has done a great job of trying to position itself to attract the next generation of jobs …

“But I just recall from my time as governor that you put a great package together, an economic development package, but then you get outbid by a foreign country that can actually have some national resources.”

Warner said that because of rising wage rates in other countries and the power of the Internet, “in rural America, we can be competitive.” Essel Propack, which now employs 213 people, is a perfect example of what bringing high-tech manufacturing jobs can do for a community, he said.

“Once we made the sale, the quality of the work force in the community sold Essel Propack to expand three times,” Warner said.

Sandy Holston, unit head of the Danville Essel Propack facility, led Warner on a tour of the plant following his announcement. Essel Propack is headquartered in India.

“It’s good to have a businessman in D.C.,” Holston said. “I think it’s gonna help the economy in our area.”

VIDEO: Announcing a jobs proposal in Danville
Click here to watch a video of Senator Warner's January 12th visit to the Essel Propack manufacturing facility in Danville.