Louisiana favors big biz with Quality Jobs money; small shops miss out

Published: Oct. 20, 2015 at 2:04 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2015 at 2:31 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Large companies that are not locally owned picked up 94 percent of Louisiana's half-billion dollar Quality Jobs deals between 2009 and 2013. And mom-and-pop shops and other small, local businesses got little more than lip service from the politicians who set up those incentives.

Those are just some of the findings from a new report by the non-profit Good Jobs First, which tracks economic incentive programs across the country.

Good Jobs First examined incentives programs in Louisiana and 13 other states. The group found between 80 and 96 percent of such incentive money - more than $3.2 billion - goes to large companies.

"Given small businesses' important role in the economy - and their still-lingering credit access problems coming out the Great Recession - this massive allocation of tax breaks to big businesses is wasteful and ineffective economic development policy," the authors write in the report's executive summary.

The study defined small businesses as those that employ 100 people or less, are locally owned and run no more than nine establishments. Large businesses, in this study, have more than 100 employees, or are not independently and locally owned, or has 10 or more establishments.

Here in Louisiana, large businesses got more than $526 million in Quality Job funds from 2009 to 2013. Small businesses got just $33.6 million during the same period.

Louisiana's Quality Jobs program offers 6-percent cash rebates on 80 percent of gross payroll for new direct jobs for up to 10 years, according to the Department of Economic Development's web site. And starting in July 2018, that rebate will be offered on 100 percent of gross annual payroll. All companies have to do to be eligible is create at least five new jobs, with a minimum wage of $14.50 an hour and a basic health benefit plan.

FOX 8 investigators reported on that relatively low minimum wage and other aspects of the QJ program in our "Easy Money" series on the Pelican State's economic incentives, which have overwhelmingly gone to large corporations.

You can read the complete Good Jobs First report here.