'How much can we get?'

As states offer more, companies expect more

October 10, 1999|By Jay Hancock | Jay Hancock,Sun Staff

Two-thirds of all states added new incentives in the past two years or increased dollars for existing programs, a survey by The Sun found.

Alabama doubled site-preparation money granted to some new employers and passed a franchise-tax abatement that will save Boeing $40 million. Florida's new investment tax credit will help give Cirent Semiconductor tax breaks of more than $35 million. Iowa, one of the few states that hadn't offered "enterprise zone" tax cuts for mobile businesses, now does. Missouri offered Ford Motor Co. $10 million for retooling its plants. Nebraska rewrote its Quality Jobs Act, netting $3 million for Caterpillar Inc., among others.

As most of the world's governments get out of the business sector, America's states have plunged in. Almost no significant corporate investment is made today without a big subsidy from state taxpayers.

Alaska enacted a $3 million grant program to lure employers. Georgia's "Quick Start" training fund handed out $10 million last year, its most ever. New training and infrastructure programs will help net $46 million in Tennessee for Dell Computer Corp. Louisiana relaxed its low-tax Enterprise Zones. Now eligible firms don't have to locate in the zones; they only have to hire zone residents.

Oklahoma expanded its Quality Jobs Act, yielding more than $100 million in new tax credits.

"Unfortunately, incentives are getting to be too important," said L. Clinton Hoch, a corporate site consultant with DCG Corplan in West Orange, N.J. "Many times a company will come to us as consultants and the first question will be: 'How much can we get?'"

Pub Date: 10/10/99

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