Trying to dig deep into the world of economic development is a difficult task for any member of the Public.
Secrecy in economic development spending remains a big challenge for journalists and the public at every level of government. Details of many state and local jurisdictions’ incentive packages to attract Tesla, Foxconn, and Amazon’s HQ2 have still not been disclosed. And now, the federal CARES Act, where the names and amounts of more than four million recipients of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans remain undisclosed.*from NFOIC’s press release of Invisible Incentives
While publicly-traded companies are bound to disclosures including sales, insider trades of stock, sources of revenue and numerous other practices, in many cases of economic development packages handed out by governments, the public is shut out.
The follow up on such offerings is likewise kept quiet. If a tax break is given to a company that requires a specified number of jobs created, these metrics are also not made public.Were a municipality to turn the page and explain the benefits, showing tangible results with full documentation of the benefits of an economic development package, it would remove the veil of secrecy that has resulted in plausible studies showing such arrangements can also result in questionable financial transactions.
[…]from Invisible Incentives, a recent report by NFOIC
Economic development can be carried out, even in the form of incentive packages, aboveboard and with full disclosure. But state lawmakers, many of whose campaigns depend on industry support, have hesitated to pass any provisions that allow these transactions to be carried out in public.
You can read the full NFOIC Report, Invisible Incentives: How Secrecy Impedes Evaluation and Accountability of Economic Development Subsidies, here: https://www.nfoic.org/sites/default/files/2020-11/Invisible_Incentives_Nov2020%282%29.pdf
You can read the original post on NFOIC’s web site here: https://www.nfoic.org/blogs/nfoics-latest-research-explores-transparency-state-and-local-economic-development-incentives