by Sarah Curry
Director of Fiscal Policy Studies
Highlighting findings from a recent JLF study on county economic incentives, the Asheville-Citizen Times wrote an article focusing on Western North Carolina and Buncombe County’s use of incentives. The article begins the discussion of talking about the incentives given to Buncombe County:
Buncombe offered $30 million in taxpayer dollars as incentives to businesses from 2009-14, according to the study of all 100 counties by the conservative John Locke Foundation. The money was promised to 20 companies ranging from a brewery to a maker of military drone parts. In exchange, the businesses promised to locate or expand facilities in the county and add jobs. The amount offered in Buncombe’s incentive contracts was the second highest in the state.
The most interesting comment in the article to me was when a corporate executive commented on the challenges of being in Asheville for business:
“One of the challenges we have is if you look at the map. … Not only do we have to compete with the counties around us, but we’ve got Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia sitting right there and it makes it really tough,” Belcher said in June when defending money promised to aerospace and marine parts maker TE Connectivity. The company was not part of the study.
This proves what JLF and many elected lawmakers have been saying for years. If we lower the state’s tax rate and regulatory burden so we can better compete against our neighboring states – the argument for incentives goes away.