With the popularity of craft beer on the rise, state legislators across the nation have been re-examining their laws to allow for greater growth in the industry, from statutory changes that help increase production to the removal of restrictions on self-distribution. That trend has continued in 2018, with South Dakota and Kansas among the states exploring proposals to assist craft brewers.
In August, Apple Inc. announced that the company would locate its new data center in Waukee, Iowa. The technology giant will receive more than $200 million in state and local tax incentives to build the $1.3 billion facility on a 2,000-acre site in the Des Moines suburb.
In September, Amazon announced its search for a second North American corporate headquarters, known as HQ2. The scale and scope of the project — the e-commerce giant is expected to invest more than $5 billion in the facility and employ up to 50,000 high-paid workers — captured not only headlines, but the attention of state and local officials.
A very public competition has ensued, and at least one Midwestern state, Illinois, is right in the middle of it.
“I’m excited about our chances for [landing] HQ2,” Illinois Rep. Mike Zalewski says. Earlier this year, he was part of an effort to reform and reinstate a long-standing Illinois incentives program known as EDGE, which is among the programs that the state could use in its pursuit.
“For every Amazon, there’s a lot more 40- or 50-person manufacturers looking to move to Illinois or to grow their business [here], and we want them to succeed,” Zalewski says. “EDGE is designed ... to help both the big fries and the small fries.”
The role of state incentives (tax credits, tax exemptions, grants, low-interest loans, etc.) has gotten increased attention in the Midwest during the latter part of 2017. In September, around the same time Illinois began making its Amazon pitch, Wisconsin was closing the deal on what lawmakers say is the biggest economic development project in that state’s history.
Indiana is planning to invest more than $20 million over the next two years into two grant programs that prepare workers to fill existing and looming job vacancies. Under the Next Level Jobs Initiative, the state will pay for workers to get trained at Indiana’s community colleges and help employers train their new hires.
The state currently has approximately 95,000 job openings, and by 2025, another 1 million are expected due to retirements and the creation of new positions. Many of these will be jobs that require some level of education or training beyond high school. According to the National Skills Coalition, by 2024, 55 percent of Indiana’s jobs will be considered “middle skill” — those requiring less than a four-year college degree but calling for some degree, certification or training beyond a high school diploma.
With a $20 million appropriation in the state’s new biennial budget, Indiana lawmakers once again affirmed their belief in a public-private partnership designed to further develop one of the state’s existing economic strengths — its life sciences industry.
“The jobs in this sector are high-paying, and the capital investments by businesses create large benefits to our economy,” says Sen. Mark Messmer, chair of the Indiana Senate Commerce and Technology Committee. The Indiana Bioscience Research Institute began four years ago with $50 million in funding. The state provided half of that start-up money, with the rest coming from the state’s universities and private firms.
The institute provides a collaborative environment for private industries and academic researchers; the state’s hope is that this public-private research results in the commercialization of new ideas, as well as advances in areas such as heart disease, diabetes and nutrition.
Brownfields — former industrial and commercial sites that have been abandoned and are contaminated by pollutants or other hazardous materials — are among the hardest sites to redevelop for other business or residential purposes.
Seven years ago, Kansas lawmakers adopted new incentives for individuals to move to the state and make one of its 77 rural counties their new home. The Rural Opportunity Zones program offers a mix of income tax waivers (for up to five years) and student-loan repayments of $15,000. But as much as he supports the idea, Kansas Rep. Troy Waymaster says another part of the economic challenges for rural areas must somehow be met.
“The problem is when there is no job for them to take, [people] probably are not going to move [to the rural counties],” he notes. “This is the other half of the equation: how you get jobs to move back.”
This year, he introduced the Ad Astra Rural Jobs Act (HB 2168), which would provide tax credits to investors who help businesses expand, locate or relocate in Kansas’ rural areas, many of which are struggling due to trends in their two dominant industries: agriculture and oil. In both sectors, commodity prices are low.
In 2015, lawmakers in North Dakota passed legislation (SB 2057) requiring the legislature to undertake an evaluation of 21 of the state’s tax incentive programs at least once every six years. According to Pew’s Business Incentives Initiative, North Dakota is one of 21 states (four in the Midwest; see map at right) that have passed laws since 2012 requiring regular evaluations of tax incentive programs offered by the state.
Imagine being in your mid- to late 20s and walking into a workplace for the very first time as an employee. For many of today’s young Americans, this delayed entry into the workforce has become a harsh reality. During the Great Recession, unemployment rates soared for all age groups.
But young people were hit particularly hard: In April 2010, the jobless rate for people between the ages of 16 and 24 reached a record high of nearly 20 percent. Today, youth unemployment in the United States still tops 10 percent, more than double the overall jobless rate.