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Lawmakers Say Incentives Not Tied To Apple Rumors

Phil Berger and Time Moore stand at a podium inside the North Carolina General Assembly.
James Morrison

Leaders of the North Carolina legislature said a proposal to change the state's business incentive program is not connected to rumors of Apple opening a campus in the Triangle.

Senate President Pro-tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore released updated provisions to the state's Job Development Investment Grant, or JDIG program, in a joint press conference Thursday. They made a point to say the changes were not related to one company in particular, like Apple.  

"These changes are made based on conversations we've had with several companies we've nearly missed on bringing to North Carolina," Berger said.

The five provisions would make it easier for large companies to qualify for transformative grant incentive packages that reimburse businesses a portion of the tax revenue they generate. They would also extend the time period these incentives are offered from 25 years to 30 years.   

Under the current JDIG program, a company must invest $4 billion and create 5,000 new jobs to qualify. The changes would make a company eligible if it invests $1 billion and creates 3,000 new jobs.

Apple's reported plan to invest $2 billion in a Triangle campus would not qualify it for incentives under the current JDIG program. But it would if the changes proposed this week are approved.

The proposal is part of the GOP-led legislature's current $23.9 billion budget proposal.

Governor Roy Cooper's spokesman released a statement saying the changes should be voted on separate from the budget.  

"As we do on many economic development efforts, the Governor's office worked closely with the legislature and other interested parties on this change that can help bring even more jobs to North Carolina," said Ford Porter. "We believe this is important enough to be voted on as a standalone measure."

One of the proposed changes to JDIG could have big benefits for rural parts of the state. Some 10 percent of High Yield and Transformative grants would go to the state Utility Account to fund rural development, under the proposal.

These funds could be used on infrastructure or other purposes that would help an area cultivate a more competitive business environment.

N.C. Chamber of Commerce President Lew Ebert welcomed Thursday's proposed changes to JDIG and the possibility of Apple opening a campus in the Triangle.

He said North Carolina has been working for the past eight years to create incentives, a talent pool and a business climate that attracts companies like Apple.  

"When you get all of those things right, which apparently now North Carolina has, folks like that come knocking," he said. 

James Morrison is a national award-winning broadcast reporter with more than seven years experience working in radio and podcasts. His work has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now and multiple other radio outlets and podcasts. His reporting focuses on environmental and health issues, with a focus on the opioid epidemic and sustainable food systems. He was recognized with a national award for a story he reported for NPR on locally-sourced oyster farming. He also received a national award for his daily news coverage of firefighters killed in the line of duty. A podcast he produced about the fall of Saigon during the Vietnam War was accepted into the Hearsay International Audio Arts Festival.
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