Economic Development Incentives:

Bad Deals for Your Community

Bad Deals for You

The politicians and bureaucrats who hand out corporate tax credits, grants and other forms of special subsidies and incentives in the name of economic development are largely wasting your taxes and putting the long-term health and stability of your community at risk.

They argue that they’re “creating jobs” and “growing the economy,” but the evidence from independent researchers from across the political spectrum is clear:

Economic development deals enrich powerful businesses and empower politicians at the expense of everyone else.

These deals don’t actually create jobs. They don’t grow the economy. States that do a lot of these deals aren’t any better off that places that don’t, and if politicians stop handing out big corporate welfare checks the jobs don’t suddenly all go someplace else.

Unfortunately, what they do accomplish is to eat up tax money that should be supporting important public services such as schools, police and fire departments, roads and other infrastructure.

This means you — and every other taxpayer — get stuck with the bill.

These giant corporate welfare programs also create long-term problems in local economies: They make it harder for entrepreneurs to succeed. They artificially increase economic inequality. They harm economic freedom. They give bureaucrats and politicians greater control over the economy. They create an atmosphere where lobbying and corruption thrive in the intersection of big business and big government.

This is a big 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 in America, combined, and it’s tripled in size since just 1990.

Our communities can’t afford to keep going on like this.

But as long as the average American believes that these deals are necessary for economic growth, politicians will keep taking credit with voters, bureaucrats will keep their jobs and businesses will keep cashing government checks while the rest of us keep getting stuck with the bill.

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 achieve our vision of a future of “free markets and the rule of law create economic opportunity for all, and in which American state and municipal governments efficiently provide essential public services while forswearing corporate welfare and central planning.”

That’s a good deal for everyone.