by Locker Room contributor
Now that the state has received its commitment from Dell to locate a new assembly plant in the Triad, after much pleading from Guilford and Forsyth County political leaders to give the company massive incentives, local officials are complaining about the incentives war between the municipal governments for the plant.
Now the company is pitting Triad governments against each other, seeking millions of dollars in additional incentives before choosing the site of its third U.S. plant.
Dell put a series of demands on Triad governments in a document neither the governments nor Dell will release. Much of the request concerns water, sewer, roads, property taxes and land needs, according to elected leaders in Forsyth and Guilford counties.
Triad officials said they must now do all they can to win the plant and its 2,000-plus jobs, all promises to the governor aside.
The recruiting process has been distasteful, especially with Dell in the driver’s seat, they said.
“It’s like they dropped the cheese on the floor and let the rats come get it,” Greensboro Mayor Keith Holliday said.
Holliday, who heads a statewide coalition of big cities, said he plans to ask for changes in how such deals are worked out as a result of the way the Dell courting has been handled.
“Without a doubt there’s a better way to do it where, say, the [state] Department of Commerce can control the local aspect of it from the start,” Holliday said. “This has been like asking the kids on the playground to police themselves with no teacher around.”
For example, he said, the state could have worked to cement the local offers and then made them a part of the overall negotiating.
More state control would almost certainly have lowered the cost to taxpayers, Holliday and others say.
“You’d like to win the project and not spend more than even makes sense,” Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines said. “We certainly reached the point where we can’t put any more in.”
To Triad leaders: You showed up at the General Assembly with big “Jobs” buttons and begged for state lawmakers to approve this plant for Dell, knowing there would be a local component. I, for one, don’t want to hear bitching and moaning about “distasteful” incentives competition and how much it is costing to get the company to your city. Shut up and finish what you started.