Transparency is a cornerstone of economic development, allowing the public to know where funds are being invested, what companies benefit from tax breaks, and if they do the good things corporate leaders and elected officials say they will. That’s why we were so cheered to see Franklin County, Ohio's new website that lifts the veil of secrecy that so often shrouds economic development subsidies.
We posted a new version of Subsidy Tracker, Good Jobs First’s database of company-specific subsidy awards from state and local governments across the country as well as federal agencies. During this round of updates, we added over 17,000 entries from 112 state and local programs from 28 states. We also updated the federal programs. We also added nine megadeals.
The idea behind the Opportunity Zones is to persuade individuals and corporations to invest their capital gains in projects in poor neighborhoods. In return, those investors receive lucrative federal tax breaks. No matter what one might think about this underlying idea of OZs, the execution and administration of the program has fallen short. Their pervasive lack of transparency and accountability is largely to blame.
Good Jobs First’s latest tally of economic development subsidies given to Amazon.com finds state and local governments have given the retail behemoth more than $3.7 billion. How much more is becoming increasingly hard to tell.
South Carolina is a state that’s given large subsidies to big companies – Boeing, Michelin, Volvo, Continental Tire, Google to name a few – and it’s also been one of the worst in the country when it comes to revealing the full costs of those deals.