Commissioner: Businesses can be won without tax incentives



(The Center Square) — Georgia’s economic development commissioner said businesses can be lured without tax incentives, but he doesn’t want lawmakers to change the state’s program.

“If there were no tax incentives, Georgia would win a majority of the time because I go back to the fact that we’ve invested in logistics, we’ve invested in workforce training, we’ve done all the right things over a long period of time,” Wilson said during a press gaggle. “In the world that we’re in today, Georgia has done an amazing job setting up the structure by which we are competitive, but we’re not overly competitive.

“And when it comes to incentives, you actually have to do something, you actually have to produce something in order to realize … an incentive, so I feel like Georgia has done the best job to protect the taxpayer in an incentive environment.”

Wilson spoke with reporters following a press event announcing Area Development magazine named Georgia the No. 1 state for business for the 10th consecutive year. The announcement coincides with the state legislature’s Joint Tax Credit Review Panel, which is reviewing the state’s tax credits and could make recommendations for changes to the state’s incentives.

“My advice to the commission would be if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Wilson said.

Georgia has given billions in taxpayer-backed incentives for electric vehicle manufacturers, including Rivian and Hyundai Motor Group.

In a recent interview with The Center Square, John Mozena, president of the Center for Economic Accountability, said incentives aren’t integral to a company’s decision.

“The ability of states to really change a company’s site selection decision with subsidies is pretty minor,” Mozena said.

The Michigan-based Center for Economic Accountability named Georgia’s decision to give $1.5 billion in incentives for a Rivian Automotive electric vehicle assembly plant as 2022’s “Worst Economic Development Deal of the Year.”

“These things are almost always sold as it’s all free money. If not for the company locating here, we’d be getting zero benefits,” Mozena added. “That sounds plausible at first glance. It’s what makes people believe these things. But the fundamental problem is that companies like Hyundai or Ford or Intel or Amazon aren’t making these deals based on subsidies.”



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