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New report suggests more targeted incentives

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RALEIGH — State leaders have been struggling for over a decade over whether or not the state should be participating in the practice of giving financial breaks to companies in order to get them to locate in North Carolina.

Most political leaders say they do not like the concept of incentives, but believe the state needs them. A new report released by the NC Budget and Tax Center agrees.

“Forty-eight out of 50 states offer some kind publicly funded subsidy at the state level,” said co-author of the report Allan Freyer.

The Mediated Incentives report by Dr. William Lester, Dr. Nicola Lowe, both of UNC and Freyer, said if Noth Carolina took a more specialized approach to incentives they might not cause so much of a burden. Currently, the state offers four forms of incentives.

However the report said these incentives should be directed to targeted industries with mediated incentives.

“What is important here is not just offering incentives willy-nilly to any firm that comes along. First it has to be in the right kind of industry and secondly and most importantly the incentive needs to go to a firm that has these key public supports,” said Freyer.

Backings through foundations such as an educated workforce, and other efforts. Freyer said this has been successful in the past and points to companies like Novartis which had much bigger financial incentives offered but choose North Carolina instead.

“North Carolina offered them about a quarter of that, and said here. But we also have a skilled workforce. We also have the North Carolina bio-tech center that could help train your workers, help scale up your business, help you do whatever you need to do to make more money,” said Freyer.

Since state incentives started in the mid-1990's, nearly 400 state incentives have been handed out, 45 percent of them were for retention of companies already in the state.

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