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The big news on the jobs front the past couple days has been the announcement by Governor Pat McCrory that insurance giant MetLife has agreed to make a new $126 million investment in two North Carolina locations, resulting in the creation of 2,600 jobs.

While the news of any job creation is good news when the state’s unemployment rate is over 9 percent, the price tag attached to these jobs is causing a bit of sticker shock. The deal involves providing $87 million in Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) incentives to MetLife over the next 12 years—the largest discretionary incentive package North Carolina has ever offered from this program.

Given North Carolina’s tight state budget and persistently high unemployment, the public needs to know as much as possible about the real costs and benefits of the deal—and whether it’s really worth $87 million in taxpayer dollars, or about $33,000 per job.

To that end, here are three questions about the MetLife deal that need answers:

Question #1—How many jobs will go to North Carolina residents? While MetLife has promised to create 2,600 jobs, how many of these employment opportunities will be open to people already living in North Carolina, and how many will be filled by moving the company’s current employees from other locations in California and New England? At a cost of $33,000 per job, it’s hard to understand the justification behind simply providing taxpayer subsidies to cover the relocation expenses of out-of-state residents, unless the overwhelming majority of these new jobs can be filled with North Carolina residents.

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The N.C. Budget and Tax Center released a special report this morning that finds North Carolina’s economic development incentive programs could be made more effective through strategic public investments.

Due to high unemployment and a sluggish economic recovery, state leaders have lately been scrutinizing the effectiveness of the state’s economic development incentive programs in generating employment growth. These programs offer cash assistance to individual firms to induce investment and job creation in North Carolina.

The BTC report (“Mediated Incentives: Making North Carolina’s Economic Development Incentive Programs Work Better through Strategic Investments”) finds that the state’s incentive programs could be more effective at job creation if these subsidies were attached to strategic public investments in targeted, growing sectors of the state’s economy through a process called “mediation.” Read More

Don’t miss our upcoming Crucial Conversation lunches on two important aspects of the 2012 economy…

Event # 1 – Business incentives: Where they work and where they don’t

Join us as Prof. Bill Lester of the Department of City and Regional Planning at UNC Chapel Hill unveils an important new study entitled “Mediating Incentives.” According to Lester, there are circumstances in which incentives can work – if we’re smart about where, when and how we pursue them.

When: Thursday September 20 – Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m. and the program will start at 12:00 noon

Click here to register for this event and get more information.

Event # 2 - A talk by Kim Bobo, Founder and Director of the national advocacy organization, Interfaith Worker Justice: How wage theft is undermining the rights of working people Read More

There’s still time to RSVP for two upcoming Crucial Conversation luncheons — don’t miss the chance to hear from a pair of extremely knowledgeable speakers on two very important subjects.

 Event # 1 – Business incentives: Where they work and where they don’t

Join us as Prof. Bill Lester of the Department of City and Regional Planning at UNC Chapel Hill unveils an important new study entitled “Mediating Incentives.” According to Lester, there are circumstances in which incentives can work – if we’re smart about where, when and how we pursue them.

When: Thursday September 20 – Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m. and the program will start at 12:00 noon

Click here to register for this event and get more information.

Event # 2 -  A talk by Kim Bobo, Founder and Director of the national advocacy organization, Interfaith Worker Justice: How wage theft is undermining the rights of working people  Read More

No single issue is more “front and center” in the modern political debate than the state of our economy. Among other things, North Carolinians want to know:

What, if anything, can policymakers do to stimulate growth and create jobs?

How can we assure that the price of economic growth does not involve worker exploitation?

To help address these critical questions, NC Policy Watch will hold a pair of special Crucial Conversation luncheons on back-to-back Thursdays in the month of September. Please RSVP and spread the word about these important events: Read More