In a report released today by Good Jobs First, leaders of small business organizations from around the country overwhelmingly agree that despite pro-small business talk, states’ economic development incentives favor big businesses at the expense of small firms looking to grow.
Good Jobs First surveyed 41 small business leaders representing 24,000 member businesses in 25 states, and found:
- 92 percent believe that state economic development spending is biased toward big business
- 79 percent believe that their state is overspending on big incentive deals, hurting state finances
- 72 percent do not believe that their state’s incentive policies promote economic growth
“These findings echo what we’ve been hearing from small business owners in our annual Independent Business Survey,” said Stacy Mitchell, coordinator of the Advocates for Independent Business, a coalition of 15 national small business organizations representing about 150,000 businesses. “State economic development incentives overwhelmingly favor big companies at the expense of small businesses, especially those new and growing firms best poised to create jobs. It’s high time that we reconsider how best to spend these public dollars.”
The study cites AIB’s 2014 Independent Business Survey, which found that local business owners ranked “eliminating public subsidies for big companies” as their top public policy concern.
The small business leaders surveyed note that traditional incentives, such as tax breaks, are less impactful for small businesses than other forms of incentives. Instead, they highlight investment in public goods like transportation, job training, and education. They also flag another of AIB’s central concerns, access to capital, as an ongoing issue for small enterprises.
This report is the first in a series of three that Good Jobs First will release this fall. The next one will analyze economic development spending in more than a dozen states, and determine what share is awarded to big corporations and to small businesses.