Campaign 2012: The cost of doing business in North Carolina





The N&O’s senior stenographer, Rob Christensen, has a piece in today’s paper about how North Carolina’s business climate is playing a role in this year’s governor’s race.   Republicans tout studies showing the state as being in the third or fourth quartile nationally in terms of  “business friendliness.”  Democrats point to a Forbes ranking which gives the state a #2 ranking nationally for its business climate.

I looked into the Forbes study. In awarding the ranking, Forbes praised the good quality of the state’s colleges and universities, as well as the overall quality of life in the state.  I agree.  We do have some great colleges here.  It’s also a great place to live.  (I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in these 50 states.)

For major corporate interests, North Carolina is a GREAT place to be.  State government loads you up with tax incentives, and hooks you up with things like low to non-existent rent and free utilities.

For existing businesses — who bankroll these sweet economic development deals — life is not so grand.  If your business depends heavily on any kind of transportation, you’re faced with THE HIGHEST gasoline taxes among the states of  the Old Confederacy.   That adds to the cost of doing business.

We are also “blessed” with one of the highest corporate income tax rates in the country.   THAT also adds to the cost of doing business in the Tar Heel state.

(Did you know that South Carolina has a special tax incentive aimed at businesses who move their operations FROM North Carolina TO South Carolina?  A buddy of mine took advantage of it a few years ago.)  

Every time the General Assembly votes for a new rule or regulation, that ads to the growing cost of doing business.

The Raleigh establishment has tried to paper over all of this by importing Yankees as fast as they can to the Research Triangle Park.  That worked for a while, until NAFTA came along and sent most manufacturing to Mexico and China.

Ol’ Rob quotes an NCSU economist who blames all of this unemployment on the migration of Yankees to our state, and the departure of manufacturing.  Riiiiiiiight.

(So would everything get better if all of these Yankees packed up and went back to where they came from?)  

Could a lack of leadership in Raleigh perhaps be linked to our over-dependence on low-skill, low-wage manufacturing jobs? 

  It was well known — before NAFTA passed — that some manufacturing would be lost to overseas markets.  What were our political leaders expecting these low-skilled workers — many of whose families had worked in these plants for decades — to do?

It’s been shown time and again that reduced tax rates result in higher revenues for government coffers.  Knock off the class warfare and do what’s right for our state and its economy. 

It’s pretty clear that entrepreneurship is the key to succeeding in this new economy.  State government and our political leaders are still using a line of thinking that worked way back when we were loaded with busy textile mills.

We need new thinking in state government that rolls back regulation and taxes, and makes it a lot easier for someone to take their ideas and turn them into a business that produces something, pays taxes and employs other people.

Walter Dalton and Bev Perdue can tout this Forbes survey all they want.  It doesn’t match up to the reality on the ground.

Republicans can talk tax cuts and regulation roll-backs all they want.  They’ve had the general assembly for two years now, and we’ve seen very little action to back up that talk.

South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee are ALL succeeding where we are failing.  We need to look at the things they are doing, and act on them.

Ol’ Rob snootily points out in his article that South Carolina — under GOP control — also has a 9.4 percent unemployment rate.  Yet, they have managed to coax BMW, Boeing, and Cooper Tire and others away from North Carolina.

To a man — or woman — business leaders will tell you that uncertainty created by our political leaders in DC and Raleigh have put the brakes on hiring.  With threats of ObamaCare, and new taxes and regulations, who wants to make major investments in new employees right now? 

Leadership — not political demagoguery — is what’s needed now.