Economic Development Deals:

Bad for Your Community, Bad for You

Every day in America, local and state governments hand out targeted incentive and subsidy deals to favored businesses in the name of “economic development.” But while politicians brag they’ve won jobs for local workers and businesses promise a boost to the entire economy, the reality is that these programs are a bad deal for the rest of us.

The evidence from independent researchers is clear: Economic development deals enrich powerful businesses and empower politicians at the expense of everyone else. These handouts drain resources from important public services such as schools, police and fire departments, roads and other infrastructure. They increase the tax burden on the rest of us, stifle entrepreneurship, increase economic inequality and contribute to the toxic entanglement of big business and big government.

This isn’t a small problem, and it’s getting worse. Every year, American state and local governments combine to hand out at least $70 billion worth of these deals. That’s enough money to fund the 10 smallest state budgets, combined — with enough left over to cover most of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s annual spending.

For too long, big business and big government interests have managed to convince Americans that we all somehow benefit when the government hands a giant corporation our money for free, or lets one business not pay the same taxes as everyone else. But that’s beginning to change, as people from all over the political spectrum begin to look at what’s going on in their community and their country and start questioning what they’ve been told for so long.

That’s where we come in. The Center for Economic Accountability promotes transparency, accountability and free-market-based reform of state and local economic development initiatives. 

We challenge the self-serving narrative of the economic development industry. We help journalists cover these deals more effectively. We gather the newest and most relevant research to help communities base policy on facts, not fiction. We fight for transparency and to hold powerful interests accountable to their promises. We bring together unlikely allies from across the political spectrum to work toward these shared goals.

Together with partners across the country – and with your help – we can make our communities places of economic opportunity for everyone.

Learn More. — Get Involved.