Corporate Welfare Weekly: Issue 78

Dec 10th, 2010
by Elizabeth Lincicome
from Corporate Welfare Weekly


Corporate Welfare Weekly: December 6-10, 2010


This week it was hard to pick up a newspaper without reading about North Carolina’s “anemic budget.” In fact, on Thursday it was reported that the budget shortfall is actually closer to $4 billion. According to the Raleigh News & Observer:


In addition to the previously reported gap estimate of $3.2 billion is an increase of $300 million for the state retirement system, $181.6 million for the health plan for state employees and retirees and $164 million of education enrollment growth ($34 million for community colleges, $55 million for the UNC system and $75 million for K-12 education). Medicaid enrollment growth in FY 2012 is unknown at this time.


Amidst this budget crisis, how on earth are public officials still getting away with doling out economic incentives to businesses across the state? There is no money to spare. 


In one of the more absurd cost-cutting proposals on the table: Wake County parents could be asked to pay for their kids to play sports, ride the school bus, and even leave campus as part of routine lunch privileges.


"We're going to have to make some sacrifices," said school board member Keith Sutton, chairman of the board's finance committee. "The question is who will make them and how much?"

Sutton said one idea could be to charge students $25 to $50 a year to play athletics, a practice more often associated with colleges… He said he has also heard ideas such as charging a fee to ride a school bus. Mark Winters, Wake's chief finance officer, said charging an annual fee of $25 could raise $1.7 million.


Incentives advocates often point to North Carolina’s stellar quality of life as another reason to do business here, but cutting back on teachers and law enforcement officials, while charging students to play sports or ride the school bus will drastically change what it’s like to live here. 



PGT: Piedmont employer loses out to Florida’s incentives offer…


Paul Johnson with the High Point Enterprise reported that workers at Salisbury window manufacturer PGT may lose their jobs as the company, which relocated from Lexington to Rowan County four years ago after receiving an incentives package, moves to Florida after getting a more lucrative incentives deal. Read the full story here.


Textile firm Sattler AG awarded incentives from One N.C. Fund…


Global textile firm Sattler AG has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund and will only create a handful of jobs over the next three years.


The Austrian-based firm will acquire the Outdura brand from North Carolina’s Shuford Mills.  The new company will be called Outdura Corp. Sattler has said it plans to absorb Shuford Mills’ current 60 employees and expand for a total of 76 jobs, but if they are acquiring 60 pre-existing jobs and have promised a total of 76 jobs aren’t they really only creating 16 jobs? 


Rowan County Commissioners discuss business incentives…


The Salisbury Post’s Karissa Minn reports that last Friday’s announcement of the closure of PGT Industries’ Salisbury plant is forcing county commissioners to reexamine its incentives policy. Read the full story here.


Similarly, the High Point City Council, which is big on using economic incentives to lure businesses to its city, is rewriting and expanding its incentives policy in the hopes of improving its economic development efforts. 


Read more in Greensboro’s Rhino Times by clicking here.


Quote of the Week…


“Within the past three weeks, the company that was mentioned earlier called and asked for the latest incentive check. They wanted to make sure they would get it before they closed. I think that’s reprehensible.”


-Rowan County Commissioner James Sides