Incentives should be monitored

Oct. 08, 2013 @ 04:15 AM

The competition between counties and states to land new and expanded businesses has gotten more and more fervent over the last years.

With millions of dollars of potential investment and, most importantly, hundreds of thousands of jobs at stake, states and counties are going “all in” when it comes to attracting businesses to North Carolina.

But, sometimes that can come at a cost.

A recent report by the Associated Press revealed a recent deal to bring in a prominent gun manufacturer to bring hundreds of jobs to Rockingham County will cost the state and that county over $15 million in incentives.

That’s not the big problem here.

What is prominent is the fact that Sturm, Ruger & Co. held out for higher incentives, forcing the state and county to renegotiate and raise its incentive package three times before the company decided to make the move.

The report indicated the company’s consultant had already settled on a location in Rockingham County in March but Ruger held the state and county hostage for better incentives with the possibility it would locate in another state.

Notes from state officials showed the company received incentive offers from South Carolina in the amount of $20 million and from Texas for $7 million.

What the process shows is just how much the state and counties will sell off to attract potential industries to bring jobs to their depleted area.

Rutherford County has been in situations where it has also bid for new industry such as Horsehead, Inc. and Facebook.

Offering tax incentives and other tax breaks are just part of the process and we understand that. What we are leary of is the state or counties “selling off the farm” with incentive benefits that far outweigh potential investments and job creations. Essentially, we hate to see a package sold to bring a company to North Carolina that isn’t worth the end investment.

Now, we understand the need for jobs in North Carolina and Rutherford County. With the 10th highest unemployment in the state, Rutherford County is in dire need of economic investment.

But, at what cost should that investment come?

The state General Assembly has already enacted a tax package benefitting corporations to the tune of $524 million over the next two years.

Tack on the millions of tax breaks and other incentives offered to companies, it may seem to the average joe to be too much.

We want business here in Rutherford County. We want jobs here in Rutherford County.

But remember, there are plenty of businesses here who decided to come to the area without promise of millions in incentives and they have stayed for years.

Let’s not “sell the farm” for the “possibility” of future economic benefit. We urge our leaders to examine these deals with a close eye and make sure the public is getting the deal it deserves.

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board

 

The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark.