Sanford speaking out against retail incentives packages

By Chandi Lowry - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford had strong words against retail incentives packages during a visit to Myrtle Beach Tuesday.

Speaking at the Tanger Outlets on US-17 Tuesday morning, Sanford claimed such incentives aren't fair to businesses in the Palmetto State and help create an unfair retail market.

Sanford, along with South Carolina Policy Council President Ashley Landess, are calling the incentives handouts to help build certain retail shops in the state.

"What these do is just put some cash in the pockets of large and successful developers," Sanford explained. "So the question of an incentive is, is it an incentives or is it a freebie?"

Landess added, "Economists' research is clear: retail incentives are bad for business, bad for the economy and bad for our state."

Debate surrounds a $134 million package that would allow a retail facility in Jasper County and a smaller package involving a Bass Pro Shop in Greenville.

"I'd simply say that using more than $9 million in taxpayer funds - for the first time in South Carolina history - to prop up this large retail establishment [Bass Pro] would not only swallow up small businesses in the same line of work but also set a horrible precedent for years to come," Sanford said. "There is a Bass Pro Shop in Myrtle Beach that invested in South Carolina without a $9 million statewide incentives package."

Sanford said developers don't need money from taxpayers if their plans are in order.

"It's important to recognize why we're at Tanger Outlet Center today, because where you stand on an issue is often reflected by where you are in fact standing," Sanford said. "Representatives from Tanger came to my office seven years ago asking for comparable incentives to those recently considered for the Okatie Crossings shopping mall in Jasper County. Tanger didn't receive the incentives they asked for, and yet they built anyway because the market was there."

Proponents to the incentives say they will bring jobs to the state. Sanford has pledged to veto legislation for the incentives.

"While the debate over Okatie Crossings may now have shifted, it's worth noting that this unprecedented legislation costing taxpayers over $100 million would have reset the clock on retail incentives, reshuffled jobs among retail shopping centers in the Lowcountry, and reinforced the dangerous tradition of allowing people in government to pick winners and losers in the marketplace," he said.

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