by Julie Tisdale
City & County Policy Analyst
There was a great piece in the Wall Street Journal last week about the problems with local governments using various incentives to attract craft breweries as part of misguided economic development efforts.
This strategy might work for a while, but it suffers from the same drawback as other attempts at public “investment”: Government isn’t particularly good at picking assets or knowing when to get in and when to get out. Don’t expect city officials to recognize it—or to turn off the tap of taxpayer money—when the craft beer bubble seems ready to pop.
There are signs, however, that craft brewing is being driven by what a late-night drinker might call irrational exuberance. If private investors alone were sidling up to the bar to throw down the cash, this might not be any public concern. But in many cases they’re dragging taxpayers along for the bender—and, when it comes, the hangover.
North Carolina local governments should heed this warning.