North Carolina’s pride in competing for corporate expansions and relocations without throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at giant companies may be coming to an end.
The budget approved by the N.C. Senate and House of Representatives — which now awaits Gov. Roy Cooper’s possible veto – makes an exception to current limits on the maximum amount allowed for Job Development Incentive Grants for projects involving at least $4 billion in investment and at least 5,000 jobs.
The bill was aimed at luring a project like the one under consideration by Chinese manufacturing giant Foxconn, which is studying a $10 billion plant in the U.S., CEO Terry Gou said this week. States under consideration include North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, he said. A decision will come in July.
“In the United States, the state governors’ sincerity and confidence to attract investment … is beyond my imagination,” Gou said after the company’s annual meeting. He apparently hasn’t watched Alabama, South Carolina and other states that have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to attract large manufacturers over the last decade.
House Speaker Tim Moore told a Raleigh reporter on Thursday that North Carolina was on the cusp of getting an 8,000-employee plant, citing the new incentives plan. It was an unusual comment given state officials’ typical reluctance to divulge such information before a final decision has been made. A spokesman for Moore did not respond to a request for a comment. The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, the state’s main industry recruiting group, doesn’t comment on potential entrants, spokesman Mary Wilson said.
Foxconn is a leading assembler of iPhones and employs more than 1 million people in China, Reuters notes. Adding 8,000 folks in the U.S. would be a nice gesture for Apple, which has faced criticism from President Trump over its overseas manufacturing.
Four years ago, Foxconn said it would make a huge investment in Harrisburg, Pa., though that hasn’t come to pass.