• Debate continues in Raleigh over NC economic incentives

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    CONCORD, N.C. - From MetLife to Sealed Air Corporation to Electrolux -- Charlotte has added thousands of jobs by using state financial incentives to lure big companies to town.

    These days the city finds itself in a kind of economic development limbo because North Carolina has yet to work out how, or if, incentives will play an significant role going forward. 

    "We don't really like the incentives game but it's something that everybody's playing and the disadvantage for us is that the state isn't in a position to offer what surrounding states are offering,” Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes said.

    The reason for the uncertainty is a stalemate in Raleigh where Senate leaders oppose expanding incentive programs and the governor supports them.  

    In Concord on Friday where he was talking the economic impact of the motor sports industry, Gov. Pat McCrory admitted frustration that an incentives deal still hasn't been worked out.

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    "That's what I’m trying to get through to the legislature," McCrory said. "I wanted the incentives program finalized within weeks. We're how in the third month. It does put me at a disadvantage and the state at a disadvantage."

    The dispute in Raleigh is causing heartburn for cities like Charlotte that are continually competing with other states to lure big companies to town. 

    NC Commerce Secretary John Skvarla says the ongoing dispute over incentives could continue leaving North Carolina as a second choice.

    "We just lost Mercedes Benz to Georgia.  The incentive program is absolutely necessary to continue our competitiveness," Skvarla said.

    Republican senators, including Bob Rucho of Matthews, have been pushing a different plan which would keep incentive packages smaller but cut corporate tax rates across the board. 

    McCrory said he remains in talks with Senate leaders and is optimistic about a deal on incentives but can't say how long it will take to get one.

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