COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina is no stranger to luring big businesses.
Top lawmakers say the state’s economy is growing and prime to bring and keep businesses. A new type of business could be coming in a few years, a professional sports team.
The Professional Sports Team Investment Act is on it’s way to Governor’s Henry McMaster’s desk. Advocates of the bill say the legislation was crucial in helping lure the Carolina Panthers’ team operations and practice facilities to South Carolina. Lawmakers have compared the potential move to when BMW, Boeing, and Volvo opened up shop here.
Greg LeRoy is the executive director of the national watchdog organization, Good Jobs First. He said, “South Carolina stands out as one of the most generous state for incentives.”
In the ’90s BMW decided to come to South Carolina. According to initial reports by WIS, the company received $130 million in incentives and the state put money down for road improvements and job training. More than two decades later, the Department of Commerce said BMW has 11,000 employees in the state and have invested $7 billion.
In 2009, lawmakers worked to help land a new Boeing facility in the Palmetto State. Our initial reports indicated they were offered $170 million in incentives, plus tax breaks for computers, fuel, construction materials, and income. The state’s commerce department said Boeing has approximately 7,500 employees here.
A move to bring Volvo here was put into high gear in 2015. The state agreed on a $123 million bond to help make infrastructure improvements near the site of a future Volvo facility. The Department of Commerce said the company has made close to a $1 billion in economic investments and has about 4,000 employees in the state.
Greg LeRoy said, “In a recent study, we found school districts in South Carolina lose more money to corporate welfare than any other state in the country.” According to a report by Good Jobs First, 76 South Carolina school districts lost out on $318 million because of corporate tax breaks in the fiscal year 2017.
The Pro Sports Team Investment Act would allow the Carolina Panthers to get about $120 million in tax breaks.
LeRoy said finding that balance between bringing in business and improving the state is crucial. “If you look at these transactions from the company’s point of view, it doesn’t make sense to give away the store. It does make sense to have a great quality of life, with great schools, great infrastructure and training programs to make employers stay and grow.”
A bi-partisan group of senators has asked the Legislative Audit Council to go back and review these incentive packages offered in the last decade and see if the companies lived up their end of the bargain.