House Speaker Bobby Harrell created an economic development group to examine how South Carolina can increase its competitiveness. The fruit of their labor became a bill entitled the Economic Development Competitiveness Act. Harrell introduced the legislation before the House last week.
Comprised entirely of private sector industry leaders, the economic development group worked closely with business leaders, industry experts, the Department of Commerce and other entities. Recommendations included in the bill include the elimination of the corporate income tax and various improvements to incentive tools.
Former Director of the Department of Revenue Burnie Maybank is now with Nexsen Pruet law firm. He serves in a six-member group who developed the legislation. Maybank says the bill would restore the straight economic criteria for incentives provided for every county.
(Maybank on economic criteria MP3 :28)
Maybank on economic criteria
The bill would have counties to be ranked for incentives based on per-capita income and unemployment rates, as they once were. Maybank says the measure would funnel up to $30 million in lottery funds going to the Centers For Excellence to pay for professors at South Carolina’s three major research universities, to support large industry.
Maybank says his group repealed the military base closure provisions, which were written 16 years ago after the Charleston Naval Base closed. The provisions provided that manufacturers that located in roughly half the counties in the state would receive an investment tax credit.
“What we did is make the entire state eligible for an investment tax credit,” said Maybank. “Now a manufacturer in Greenville and Spartanburg is now entitled to it.”
The economic development group also expressed their support for other legislative initiatives being sought by the House this year – tort reform, ESC reform and dual rail access at the Port of Charleston. Another part of the legislation is connected to the federal stimulus bill, which provided every South Carolina county with a couple of different types of recovery bonds. But Maybank says some of those allocations for federal bonds are too small to be useful. The bill would allow counties to combine their bonds.
The legislation also provides incentives for alternative energy manufacturers.