Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Where are Wisconsin business incentives?

JANESVILLE — When a company looks for a site for a new facility, the discussion often starts with geography, moves to labor costs and ends with state incentives.

In 2005, Janesville lost on the first and last elements in the battle to land a $100 million Lowe’s distribution center and its 500 jobs.

Lowe’s decision to build 1.4 million-square-foot facility in Rockford, Ill., was based on two factors. Rockford is only 45 miles from DeKalb, which Lowe’s said was the geographic center of the area to be served by the facility.

And Illinois officials brought a $26.1 million incentive package to the table. Janesville was able to muster only $15.6 million from state and local sources.

The lessons learned in 2005 take on more importance now as Janesville works to recover from the loss of thousands of auto industry jobs.

The Lowe’s project is not unique.

Wisconsin communities routinely find themselves on the short end of recruitment battles with neighboring states that are more freewheeling with incentive dollars and tax abatement programs.

When they’re not losing companies to foreign countries, Midwestern states are increasingly seeing companies relocate to or expand in other U.S. regions. More here.

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