This March, the Upjohn Institute published the most comprehensive study of economic development incentives yet produced, analyzing data from 1990 to 2015. The researchers found that although the average amount of incentives tripled over that period, increasing from 9 percent of business taxes to 30 percent, they were largely ineffective and governments would have experienced the same results without the incentives 94 percent of the time.The Arkansas legislature expanded corporate welfare in 2017.
Governments looking for a more effective way to spur economic development ought to take a look at what’s going on in Richmond, Va. In 2014, then-Mayor Dwight C. Jones created the Office of Community Wealth Building, which was charged with reducing overall poverty by 40 percent and child poverty by 50 percent by 2030. The program’s integrated strategy focuses on expanded workforce development, targeted job creation, improved educational outcomes and development of a regional transportation system.