When businesses are awarded tax breaks to relocate or stay in a city or state, they are typically promoted as sound investments in job creation and widely celebrated. What is little known, however, is that many of these jobs are already filled. And, typically, few opportunities are created for residents from economically distressed areas.
These incentive-laden packages—effectively corporate subsidies—lead to less efficient markets and rarely end up creating jobs or generating an uptick in revenues. The companies that receive them are not held accountable if the promised jobs don’t appear, or if they soon leave for an even better deal elsewhere.
Surdna is pushing back against these wasteful and ineffective practices by supporting work that puts equity, transparency, sustainability, and community engagement at the heart of economic development policy, planning, and practice.
Surdna grantee Good Jobs First, for example, is making economic development subsidies more accountable and effective by monitoring incentive deals and calling attention to their hidden taxpayer costs. We are also supporting advocacy to ensure that more of the benefits from development projects accrue to local businesses and communities that have been historically shortchanged by development decisions. Through our support for innovative communications and media projects, we are working to change the narrative around economic development to include equity, transparency, and sustainability.