The Economic Development Game

Chuck Sheketoff

Over at The Lexington Herald-Leader did a special report on economic development.

There's lessons in the series for Oregonians - we've got giveaway schemes, too - and for reporters on how to report the real story of tax breaks. For example, you will see one company got a break claiming Kentucky was in competition with Oregon and Utah and the company (Affiliated Computer Services OR ACS) later admitted all three states got the investment, after the company got the break from Kentucky.

Here's the introduction:

Kentucky needs jobs — and will do almost anything to get them.

That much is obvious after decades near the bottom of virtually every national economic measure.

But 25 years of expensive state efforts to recruit industries have barely moved the needle on the commonwealth's dismal rankings -- neither have they improved the lives of many people teetering on the edge of poverty.

Instead, at a cost of $1.8 billion, Kentucky's main economic-incentive programs have overburdened taxpayers and left citizens on the losing side of a high-stakes game with hard-bargaining corporate interests.

This is the first in an occasional series of stories looking at how Kentucky's incentive programs and what they have done to attract lasting jobs to the state.

Read the articles in the Special Report called "Gambling for Jobs."

And to learn more about how this issue impacts Oregonians and others outside Kentucky, see The Great American Jobs Scam.

  • Meg R (unverified)

    Thanks Chuck, I always like your posts, even if the news is rarely good.

    I just wanted to add that I just read several interesting pieces on AlterNet, The Nation, In These Times, and the American Prospect about tax incentives and other subsidies given to Wal-Mart throughout the U.S.

  • Ron Ledbury (unverified)

    Every state slave must be matched against an employer.

    How wonderful?

    How progressive?

    Has the call for jobs jobs jobs become a full and complete replacement for our purpose for being?

    I had to drop my regional economics class some 20+ years ago because it nearly made me puke with disgust. This was at a time near the start of Oregon's own experiment at letting the Animal Farm pigs set the terms of the debate.

    If you want to wrap in analysis of local Economic Development with notions of international economic development as if we were/are a Latin American burg, then we might have a useful framework to begin real analysis.

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