Wednesday, July 30, 2008

They Went Back to Ohio (for Tax Breaks)

Richard Lawson is using Bridgestone's choice of Akron, OH instead of Murfreesboro for its technology center as more fodder to keep Tony Giarratana's May Town Center project on the City Paper readership radar.

However, Lawson leaves out some significant details.  According to a dispatch from Ohio it looks like Bridgestone is moving not simply because someone built them a "campus" or a "second satellite" of Akron, but because they are going to receive free money from the local government:
A state agency gave the green light Monday for Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC to receive an $18 million tax break if it keeps its technical center in Akron.

The Ohio Tax Credit Authority's five-member panel unanimously approved the deal, which would allow Bridgestone Firestone to pay just 25 percent of its state commercial activity tax bills for 15 years. In exchange, the company would be required to retain operations in Akron for at least 18 years.

The offer is part of an estimated $68 million economic-development package being pulled together by the state, Summit County and the city to keep the tire company's technical center in Akron.
Why would Southcomm journalist Rickard Lawson leave this not-so-minor detail out?  Perhaps because it undermines one of the cornerstone justifications Tony G.'s  minions are using:  that MTC would generate an avalanche of tax revenues to pay for public services and education without having to raise property taxes.  Acknowledgement that Tennessee and Davidson County may have to give tax revenues to corporations to relocate to Bells Bend rather than spend them on Metro schools is not exactly good brochure material.  It's more along the lines of "sex to save the friendship."

From what I can tell, a campus is not going to be the catalyst in the Bridgestone deal, because the Murfreesboro site included plans for a 125-acre mixed-use development.  MTC is planned as a 50-acre mixed-use development, and Tony Giarratana has insisted that corporations (like Bridgestone) require a minimum of 50-acre campuses (the next logical question being, why should we assume that only 50-acres of MTC is going to be enough, when suburban areas can offer two- and three- times that space?).

Of course, Richard Lawson chooses not to give a lot of information regarding Murfreesboro or why they didn't get the Bridgestone center, probably because more information doesn't serve his primary mission to carry Tony G.'s water.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, I suspect the inducement battle was a wash. Akron would surely have had the upper hand to begin with, because, as the traditional center of the rubber industry, it's an important center for rubber research, and research is an extremely gregarious industry. Lacking big inducements, the major attractions of the 'Boro would have been lower costs and proximity to HQ--probably not enough in this case. In any event, I don't have the impression that Tony G. and Co. have in mind marketing MTC as a research park; that's a highly specialized deal, and hard to pull off [How many successful RTPs have there been?].