Recently, The New York Times has been conducting a series on business incentives nationally called 'The United States of Subsidies'. How quaint. Despite the title, I'd like to direct your attention to Part I of the series, wherein the Times produces economic development incentives figures for every state in the nation both on a total cost and per capita basis.
A top priority for PDI is working to improve the competitiveness of our state in the area of incentives available to help close deals in our communities, and the Times piece paints a stark picture of Iowa here. We are among the ten states nationally with the lowest per capita apportionment of economic development incentives dollars at $73 per person and $0.04 per budget dollar. Even in our neighborhood, we're outpaced almost two to one by Illinois [Illinois!], four to one by Wisconsin, five to one by Kansas, nine to one by Michigan, and ten to one by Nebraska.
Feel free to use these numbers in your next conversation with a site selector.
The point is, we've got to make our policymakers recognize and understand the kind of playing field we're on and the importance -despite how politically noxious the topic can be- of robust funding for economic development incentives and other programming. The proverbial green shoots of growth in many of our communities are real, but if we intend to maintain and accelerate the trend, we've got to have the tools to compete, and that starts with a healthy fund from which IEDA can draw from to make Iowa the competitive choice for business.
President, Professional Developers of Iowa