President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday touted a deal struck with Carrier executives to keep nearly 1,000 jobs in the U.S. and said companies will no longer look to cut costs by leaving the country in his first public appearance since his election.
"These companies aren't going to be leaving any more. They're not going to be taking people's hearts out," Trump said at an appearance at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis, Indiana. "They're not going to be announcing, like they did at Carrier, that they're closing up and they're moving to Mexico."
The air-conditioning manufacturer had planned to move production at its Indianapolis plant to Mexico, where operations would be cheaper, taking some 1,400 jobs out of the state. Under the deal worked out by the Trump administration — which Vice President-elect Mike Pence took a leading role in shaping — Carrier will keep about 1,000 of those jobs in the state.
Trump spoke to Carrier employees after touring the plant, saying he was struck by an employee featured in a news story about the shuttering plant who said he was confident Trump would save his job. It was his first public event since being declared the president-elect on November 9.
"I never thought I made that promise. Not with Carrier. I made it for everybody else. I didn't make it really for Carrier. And I said, 'What's he saying?' And he was such a believer," Trump said.
"And then they played my statement. And I said, 'Carrier will never leave.' But that was a euphemism. I was talking about Carrier like all other companies from here on in."
"Thanks to the initiative and the leadership of President-elect Donald Trump that Carrier has decided to stay and grow right here in America," Pence said.
A source with knowledge of the state's negotiation with United Technologies said the deal would grant the parent company of Carrier Corp. $7 million in financial incentives over 10 years in exchange for a guarantee that the air and heating conditioning company would retain at least 1,000 jobs and invest $16 million into its Indiana operation.
Carrier confirmed Thursday that "the state of Indiana has offered Carrier a $7 million package over multiple years, contingent upon factors including employment, job retention and capital investment."
The deal, however, did include Carrier's plant in Huntington, Indiana, where CNBC reports 700 jobs will be lost when a plant there closes. Employees from the Huntington facility protested the Trump event with signs reading "What about our jobs in Huntington?"
A top member of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. — which will have to approve the Indianapolis deal offered to Carrier to keep them in the state — said the tax cuts are likely not the biggest reason Carrier's keeping its plant in Indiana.
Former Indiana Lt. Gov. John Mutz, chairman of the IEDC board's public policy committee, said the real reason is likely the fact that United Technologies has significant revenue from government contracts.
"United Technologies is a gigantic international company with many different divisions and subsidiaries, many of which do substantial amounts of business with the U.S. government," Mutz told Indianapolis Business Journal. "The dynamics are considerably different than they were even before the election. You're talking here about a company that is trying to be competitive and also wants to keep their business with the government."
The company itself cited "incentives offered by the state" as part of the decision in a statement announcing its plans.
"Today's announcement is possible because the incoming Trump-Pence administration has emphasized to us its commitment to support the business community and create an improved, more competitive U.S. business climate. The incentives offered by the state were an important consideration," the statement read.
After Trump's stop in Indianapolis, he and vice president-elect Mike Pence will head to Cincinnati, Ohio, for the first rally of his "Thank You" tour — signaling a clear focus on the working-class Americans that helped drive him to an improbable victory on Nov. 8.
But even as Trump claims victory in delivering on a campaign promise to keep the Carrier jobs in Indiana, Democrats having taken him to task for the agreement that could still result in hundreds losing their jobs and, opponents say, could incentive companies to threaten to go overseas.
That was the message from former Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders, who rose to prominence on the same populist wave that delivered Trump a November win. Sanders noted in a Washington Post op-ed that though Trump said during the campaign he'd threaten to punish Carrier with a tariff on imported goods to prevent it from taking jobs out of the country, the deal reached does essentially the opposite.
"Instead of a damn tax, the company will be rewarded with a damn tax cut. Wow! How's that for standing up to corporate greed? How's that for punishing corporations that shut down in the United States and move abroad?" Sanders wrote.
The Vermont senator added: "In essence, United Technologies took Trump hostage and won. And that should send a shockwave of fear through all workers across the country."