Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican, says it was the incentives that brought those Kia jobs to town. Harvey Newman, an economist at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Public Policy, isn’t convinced. “It was clear they would pick a Southern state because of labor costs,” he notes. “Alabama had a trained force of autoworkers, so Kia located on the Georgia-Alabama border.” In other words, Georgia taxpayers are paying Kia hundreds of millions of dollars to hire Alabama workers."
While it may make some sense to offer assistance to use tax money to accelerate development of roads, water or energy lines, and other similar projects, the unspoken freebies to woo wealthy companies usually include free land and years of no taxation. That's usually called "abatement", which is easier on the ears of taxpayers than the word's real meaning - free ride on taxes.
As the story notes, the real decisive factor for the majority of businesses has little to do with these massive payouts - they are concerned with other issues, like work force training, access to suppliers, and prevailing wages.
The South is leading the way for tax-funded subsidies, and companies are paying attention to the trend. It allows them to go to other states (perhaps the ones they prefer from the beginning) and see what kind of bidding war can ensue.
Newman has more on the topic, too -
"There’s almost never any evidence that [taxpayer-funded incentives] work” at producing benefits for the general public, says Newman, the Georgia State economist. “We know that incentives aren’t usually the deciding factor. So the jobs would be created in any event. And incentives are basically unfair, favoring some companies over others."
I've mentioned this topic before, Tax Increment Financing (TIF), noting the true cost to communities which tend to offer any and every tax deal imaginable. The real costs are soon dropped on residents in the form of higher taxation:
"But what is missing here is that the cost of developing private business has some public costs. Road and sewers and schools are public costs that come from growth. Unless spending is cut and if a TIF really does generate economic growth, spending is likely to rise, as the local population grows the burden of paying for these services will be shifted to other taxpayers. Adding insult to injury, those taxpayers may include small businesses facing competition from well-connected chains that enjoy TIF-related tax breaks. In effect, a TIF subsidizes big businesses at the expense of less politically influential competitors and ordinary citizens."
What are the real costs of Southern 'hospitality'?