06/17/10 — Rock, hard place: Business incentives are double-edged sword in tight times

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Rock, hard place: Business incentives are double-edged sword in tight times

OK, so we want more jobs. No question about it.

And to get them, we have to attract businesses to North Carolina -- and in some cases, that means offering them a reason to choose a town in this state over a site in another.

So, on the face of things, having a pool of money to offer to businesses that might be looking to build or to expand is not such a bad idea.

But this is not a normal time.

The state is facing the kind of budget crisis that is serious enough that a very large number of teachers could very well be facing losing their jobs -- and many health services are also dealing with dwindling state funding, which could mean families will have to find other ways to get the service they need.

So when you examine that circumstance, you realize, perhaps $300 million to attract a Hollywood production company or to get a new business to pick North Carolina might not be what is in the state's best interest right now.

There is no question that what needs to be done is to cut back in this fund -- and to come up with a better way to get more economic development dollars into the budget.

Right now, the priority should be educating the state's children and making sure that families have the health services they need.

And making sure thousands of North Carolinians keep their jobs is not such a bad idea either.

And while we are cutting back in incentives for businesses that are not here yet, perhaps we can think of a way to reward those who are already here.

That might be an investment with real returns.

Published in Editorials on June 17, 2010 10:43 AM