Corporate Welfare Blowout: North Carolina Gov. Cooper Pledged $1.3 Billion to Just 58 Corporations in 2021

  • In 2021, Gov. Cooper blew past his previous years’ corporate welfare numbers in pledging $1.3 billion in incentives giveaways to just 58 corporations
  • His 39-year, $846-million award to Apple, a company with more money than the State of North Carolina, was named the “Worst Economic Development Deal of the Year” by the Center for Economic Accountability
  • The General Assembly then enabled another potentially 39-year deal worth up to $315 million to Toyota by creating yet another new kind of Job Development Investment Grant

By John Sanders | 6 January 2022

JOHN LOCKE — In 2019, Gov. Roy Cooper pledged (D-N.C.) $146.0 million in corporate welfare to 66 corporations. In 2020, amid shutting down and crippling small businesses with extreme executive orders, Cooper pledged $519.3 million in corporate giveaways to just 48 corporations.

In 2021, Cooper made those crony boondoggles seem almost stingy by comparison. He pledged over $1.3 billion in corporate welfare to just 58 corporations. A full list is at the end of this brief.

Pledging such huge amounts to so few corporations has always made for dramatic contrast with the governor’s habitual professions of anger at “corporate tax breaks.” Supposedly those giveaways are what creates jobs, as the governor’s press office would have you believe. The tallies of announced jobs that would be “created” include 11,779 starting in 2019 (at $12,392 per job); 11,600 in 2020 ($44,764 per job); and 15,670 in 2021 ($82,962 per job).

The jaw-dropping giveaways are through the state’s corporate incentives programs, the Jobs Development Investment Grant (JDIG) and One North Carolina (OneNC) grant programs, which are creatures of legislation, meaning that the General Assembly is in on the game. OneNC grants are smaller awards given in 25% increments as recipient companies add promised new jobs, while JDIG grants are spread out across 12 years with clawback provisions if recipient cronies don’t create the promised new jobs or make the promised amount of investment. Investigative reporting from WRAL had found that these programs resulted in “just over half the expected jobs” — and “[a]bout 37 percent of incentivized companies failed to create even a single job.” […]

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