A new report out today from the N.C. Justice Center, a progressive public policy think tank in Raleigh, is raising questions about whether bigger cities such as Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro and Asheville are gobbling up a disproportionately large percentage of the state's job-recruitment incentives since 2007.
Of the $840 million in incentives given out since then to recruit or grow industry, the majority went to the more urban and prosperous areas of the state, the study showed. Mecklenburg got 55 job development projects during that time and pulled in more than $303 million in incentives -- or more than a third of the state's total incentives for the period. That money came with promises that companies would create or retain more than 24,000 jobs in the Charlotte area. By contrast, rural Sampson County, located just east of Interstate 95, received merely $238,000 for two projects. Those projects promised to create or retain 187 jobs.
The state has been trying to do more to boost job growth in economically hard-hit rural areas. But as urban areas keep sprinting ahead, the challenge seems to loom increasingly large.
"North Carolina needs to spend less money on incentives in the most prosperous metros in the state, and start investing more in the roads, schools and job training programs most likely to create jobs and improve economic conditions in the state's most distressed and rural communities," said Allan Freyer, the report's author.