Just days after Charlotte City Council announced it will write off more than $22 million in debt from the NASCAR Hall of Fame because of the Hall’s financial problems, now Chiquita announces it will close its Charlotte headquarters.
What do these things have in common? Both were lured to Charlotte with major government handouts. The NASCAR Hall of Fame received a package worth over $100 million from the city and state, while Chiquita’s deal totaled about $23 million from the city and state. Both deals failed to come anywhere close to living up to their promises. And in both cases, Charlotte won out over heavy competition from other cities and states.
This week in Charlotte serves as living testimony to the folly of corporate welfare and government’s attempt to plan the economy. Yet, in spite of this taking place in his hometown, Gov. McCrory continues to insist on even more corporate welfare. McCrory wants more “tools” (read: your tax dollars) to land the next business deal.
But we should be careful what we wish for. Even corporate welfare deals that end up a major bust – like the NASCAR Hall – are at the time fought over heavily.
Take, for example, this 2006 article in an Athens, GA paper lamenting the fact that Georgia lost out on the NASCAR Hall of Fame because it didn’t offer enough incentives.
The city of Charlotte, N.C., which beat Atlanta and Daytona Beach, Fla., to get the hall, could see an annual economic impact of $60 million to $100 million from the facility, according to estimates referenced in the March 1 edition of the Charlotte Business Journal.
Obviously, the hall was a prize worth pursuing.
Obviously? Heh. Atlanta can now breathe easy that they’re not the ones on the hook for this fiscal black hole. Let’s keep this mind when hearing McCrory and other legislators desperately pleading how NC can’t afford to miss out on landing the next big corporate fish.