Skvarla lauds industry incentives bill from General Assembly

Commerce Secretary John Skvarla

Commerce Secretary John Skvarla

RALEIGH – Tuesday the House gave tentative approval (84-24) to the N.C. Competes Act, a measure that supporters say puts North Carolina in a better position to compete for big industry. N.C. Competes contains the expansion of the Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG), one of the tools that Commerce Secretary John Skvarla uses to draw employers to the state. It gives companies tax credits as they meet pre-determined employment benchmarks and was previously capped at $15 million.

The compromise package extends the program’s sunset, raises the monetary cap by $5 million to $20 million, and promises up to $35 million if the state lands a mega-site that employs 1,750 or more people.  Incentives are also more generous for companies that set up shop in poorer counties.

“This really sends a message to the world that North Carolina is a significant player,” said Skvarla. “The world has known for a while that we just didn’t have the tools that other states have to attract business.”

Despite some lawmakers open opposition to incentives, N.C. Competes was unanimously approved by the Senate earlier Tuesday and will face one final vote in the House Wednesday before going to Gov. Pat McCrory, who is expected to sign it into law. McCrory and Skvarla have been working with lawmakers to find more money to draw industry, saying that the state was not able to compete on the world stage. Even though the JDIG bucket has been empty since early in the year,  the administration continued to work on attracting employers. With today’s vote to replenish the grant program, Skvarla says he is very optimistic.

“We’ve been working with a lot of companies on a contingency basis, anticipating that we will have more to work with soon, so the pipeline is robust,” said Skvarla. “I’m glad to have this now to bring big business to North Carolina.”

Businesses already in North Carolina will benefit as well from N.C. Competes and from the drop in the corporate income tax to 4 percent. The tax cut is part of the budget that McCrory signed into law last week. In addition, N.C. Competes exempts some industries from paying sales tax on certain products, such as aviation fuel, fuel for motorsports, and electricity for large data centers. Those exemptions drew fire from some lawmakers, who called them corporate handouts and said it put government in the business of picking economic winners and losers. Supporters said the incentives are part of an overall strategy to attract and keep large industries.