Missouri job growth at half of incentive pledge

Jobs were vanishing by the thousands when Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon took office in the midst of the greatest recession in decades.

So when an agricultural company decided to build a soybean processing facility in southeast Missouri, Nixon pounced on the potential of 50 new jobs, proclaiming that it was “precisely the kind of next-generation growth that will help Missouri lead the country’s economic recovery.”

Nixon’s March 4, 2010, press release praising DuPont Pioneer Hi-Bred marked the first of what would become about 200 gubernatorial announcements or ceremonies touting business deals projected to cumulatively create about 48,000 jobs in exchange for up to $2 billion of state incentives. As Democrat Nixon prepares to leave office Jan. 9, those businesses have reported hiring a little over 21,400 employees while the state so far has distributed about $166 million of incentives to them, according to an Associated Press analysis of data compiled by the state Department of Economic Development.

While the report card is incomplete — Nixon’s deals will likely lead to more jobs and incentives paid out even after he’s left office — Missouri’s experience highlights the extent to which states are willing to use targeted tax breaks to attract jobs, and the difficulty in determining whether the incentivized promises ultimately pan out.

The AP’s analysis didn’t include projects that Nixon didn’t publicize. But figures provided by the state show that even with those projects, fewer than half of the promised jobs have been created so far.

Read more: Associated Press

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