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To lure Amazon and more, California needs a statewide enterprise zone

By in Press Enterprise on October 26, 2017

By Kerry Jackson

Everyone wants a piece of Amazon. A city in Georgia has even offered to rename itself “Amazon” if only the web sales giant would locate its second headquarters there. Jerry Brown is making a pitch, too. The governor, according to the Mercury News, “is offering tax breaks and other incentives worth hundreds of millions of dollars should Amazon choose the Golden State as the site of its second home.”

We welcome our Democratic governor’s effort. But he’s only part of the way there. Tax cuts and regulatory relief should not be limited to only Amazon.

Governments have been using targeted tax breaks and other financial favors to attract businesses for decades. That’s how South Carolina landed a sprawling BMW factory, and Alabama snagged a Mercedes-Benz plant — which the state owns and leases to the automaker for $100. The German car companies were given hundreds of millions in tax incentives to open the facilities.

Targeting Amazon or any other company for special treatment is tempting. But policymakers should not be choosing winners and losers in a competitive economy. All businesses in this state, as well as those that might want to expand or relocate here, should get the same treatment Brown is offering. The entire state should be an enterprise zone.

Enterprise zones, introduced to California in the 1980s, dangle favorable tax policy, and sometimes regulatory relief, in front of businesses to draw them into areas that are suffering economically. The goal is to boost employment and stimulate local economic development. At one time, California had 42 enterprise zones.

But forget zones. Go statewide. Become “The Enterprise State” before another state grabs the name.

Companies naturally want to locate, relocate and expand their businesses here. Under the right conditions, there is no better place. But those conditions don’t exist at the moment.

For those conditions to exist, […]    

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