Tennessee giving out big money for new businesses

Published 2:37 pm Thursday, May 25, 2023

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Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development has awarded six grants of $1 million or more through the first five months of 2023, with the highest being a $9 million grant to SK Food Group in January.

The FastTrack grants are state grants sent to help offset costs of expanding or moving into the state with the goal of increasing the number of full-time jobs and the average wages of jobs available in an area.

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The grants are approved by the State Funding Board, which had a May 31 meeting scheduled that has since been removed from the calendar. The ECD announced in a press release Wednesday the Meco Corp. would be spending $27.8 million to expand its Greeneville location but the department did not reveal the incentive given to Meco.

Those incentives get posted to the ECD’s website within 30 days of a deal being announced.

The deals so far that gave companies more than $1 million of state funds went to 6K Energy Tennessee, Kordsa Inc, NYX Linden LLC, Formulated Solutions Cleveland LLC, SK Food Group and In-N-Out Burgers.

Nationally, incentives from companies are on the rise in terms of the number of incentives given and the amount awarded.

Good Jobs First reported using inflation-adjusted data that there was just one billion-dollar incentive in the 1980s, two in the 90s, 10 in the 200s, 12 in the 2010s and already 12 in the 2020s.

The report also cited academic research showing that, while economic incentives do not help states, they do bring political and financial benefit to the politicians who approve those incentives through large political donations.

Tennessee, meanwhile, awarded nearly $1 billion to Ford for its Blue Oval City project outside of Memphis while the Tennessee Titans have been promised $1.26 billion to build a new $2.1 billion stadium.