December 19, 2012

How many million for 16 miles?

More Politics and Firm Incentives

I’ve blogged too much about countries, states, and cities providing incentives for firms.   Here is a quick Missouri edition.  Two firms received incentives from the city and state over the past week or so.

Hudson Bay (Lord and Taylor) received a big incentive package to expand their operations just outside of downtown St. Louis. 

Here is the quick description of their incentive package:

The incentive package includes $3.8m in Missouri Quality Jobs program tax credits and $2.2m in Brownfield Redevelopment program tax credits to the building's owner, BEB Management. The funds will be awarded provided the companies meet job-creation and investment requirements for each program. Hudson's Bay Company must create 177 new, full-time jobs that pay a wage that is at or above the county average wage and offer insurance, within five years.

The Missouri Quality Jobs program is a state level program, but where did the other $2.2 million come from?  Is this is good deal for St. Louis?

The company is expanding their operations and the St. Louis board of alderman voted to extend extra incentives as part of program to encourage revitalization of “blighted areas”.  Forget about the fact that this building isin a nice location downtown and the company is renovating the additional floors of the building they already occupy (are these floors blighted), I haven’t been able to get any real details about this incentive package.  I eventually found the bill, introduced by Alderman Phyllis Young.  But nothing else.  My email to Phyllis has yet to be returned.   

A second incentive was offered to Vistar, a food and beverage distributor located in Kansas City Kansas has jumped to border to move 16 miles to Kansas City, Missouri.  This comes with a $700,000 in block grant financing and $100,000 in other incentives.  Is this another example of the “border war” between the two states?

A news story I found from the Shawnee local paper (the original location of the firms) claims that incentives weren’t central to this location decision.

What do make of these two case?  One point is that it isn’t clear if incentives had any impact on the location decision of the two firms.  One simply expanded and the other moved to a better location.  It is hard to know what would have happened without these expensive incentive packages.

The other point is more about conducting research in this area.  Even with my local knowledge, I struggled to find basic information on these incentive packages.

Still waiting for an email from Phyllis.