Leaders hope to reel in new jobs

Senate panel OKs incentives to hook companies that could bring 1,500 jobs and $2 billion to the state.

The Associated PressMay 27, 2010 

North Carolina legislators say they have big business deals on the line and need to increase tax breaks that will help reel them in.

On Wednesday, the state Senate's Finance Committee approved a package aimed at attracting two computer data centers, an energy turbine manufacturer, and a plant converting wood pulp to paper.

State business recruiters are close to completing commitments to expand in North Carolina from these companies, which would mean more than 1,500 jobs combined and nearly $2 billion in investment, said Sen. Dan Clodfelter, D-Mecklenburg.

"These are live fish," he said. "They have told us what it would take to seal the deal."

None of the companies were named. The paper plant is considering a location west of Charlotte and south of Interstate 40, Clodfelter said.

The paper plant and turbine manufacturer combined would result in up to 1,300 jobs and $150 million in investment, Clodfelter said. The two data centers would account for about 250 jobs and $1.75 billion in investment, he said.

Those estimates suggest two data centers slightly larger than the vast server farms Google and Apple have placed west of Charlotte in the past two years.

The breaks would mean the state would have to forgo about $9 million in taxes next year if North Carolina lands all the expansions, and nearly $14 million the following year before the value of the breaks diminishes, legislative fiscal analysts said.

The Senate version of the state budget approved last week counted the lost tax revenue.

"I'm very comfortable with what I see here now, and I can support it without qualification," said Sen. Floyd McKissick Jr., D-Durham. "We need the jobs."

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