Since Gov. Nikki Haley took office in 2011, state budget appropriations for a Department of Commerce fund used to lure corporations to locate or expand in South Carolina have grown collectively by more than 800 percent, a review by The Nerve found.
From January 2013 through May this year, five state-government lobbyists with the prominent Nelson Mullins law firm collectively received more than $1.2 million in income representing mainly large corporations, records show.
A little-known, proposed national accounting change could shed light on how much public revenue is lost in South Carolina through generous taxpayer-backed incentives that routinely are doled out secretly to companies.
Companies that receive taxpayer-backed tax incentives are free to contribute to the campaign accounts of the politicians who secured the incentive deals in the first place. Andrew Perez reports.
In August 2011, state and local officials were beaming about the planned location of 5-STAR USA’s “global” headquarters in Marlboro County.
Mum’s still the word when it comes to S.C. officials doling out tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to select companies.
On June 16, Gov. Nikki Haley announced that Singapore-based Giti Tire would locate a $560 million manufacturing plant in Chester County, bringing 1,700 jobs over 10 years.
In a press release Monday, Gov. Nikki Haley touted her announcements of three separate Upstate economic development projects, which officials say will eventually bring a collective 7,100 jobs, as the “Biggest Single Day Jobs Announcement in South Carolina State History.”
The reality cable television shows “Southern Charm,” “Welcome to Myrtle Manor,” and “Party Down South” were each produced in South Carolina without direct handouts from S.C. taxpayers, according to the state’s tourism agency.
S.C. Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt had his hand out at a recent House Ways and Means subcommittee meeting, recalled Rep. Gary Simrill, the subcommittee chairman.
Collin Brown III says he’s well aware of a state deadline this year to create 262 jobs and invest $6 million in a diaper production plant in Marion County, or face possible repayment of a $1 million state grant.
The governing board of the S.C. Department of Transportation could ignore its state-mandated priority list of road projects for other proposals with “substantial immediate economic benefit,” under a recently filed House bill.
Imagine going to a bank and asking for a $120 million loan but refusing to tell the loan officer how exactly you plan to spend the money.
The five-member S.C. Budget and Control Board, chaired by Gov. Nikki Haley, unanimously approved – without any debate – a Commerce proposal to extend a pilot program dubbed the “Sales Incentive Pay Plan” for three years starting next month.
The September 2009 announcement that the Softee Supreme Diaper Corporation would locate a $6 million plant in Marion County and create 262 jobs was heralded then by state and local officials as a godsend to an area with historically one of the highest unemployment rates in South Carolina.
Halloween is officially over, but plenty of companies locating or expanding in the Palmetto State will continue to get big, taxpayer-funded goodie bags.
After four open-records requests over 18 months, the S.C. Department of Commerce this month finally released incentives documents to The Nerve for an announced $900 million expansion project at the BMW plant in Spartanburg County.
For more than a month, state and local officials have been largely silent about taxpayer-backed incentives offered to a television manufacturer – led by a man accused in federal lawsuits of receiving millions in bonuses generated through a massive Ponzi scheme – to locate a plant in Fairfield County.
In April 2010, Thomas Petters of Minnesota was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison for masterminding a $3.7 billion, 10-year Ponzi scheme – one of the largest scams in U.S. history.
At a Fairfield County Council meeting last month, citizens questioned why details about a major unnamed manufacturing project were being kept secret.
On Tuesday afternoon, what Boeing got was effectively a rubber stamp from the S.C. Budget and Control Board (BCB) to the tune of $120 million in taxpayer-funded state bonds that will allow the Fortune 500 company to finance its latest expansion project when the bonds are sold by the state Treasurer's Office.
The S.C. Coordinating Council for Economic Development, which often meets behind closed doors, would have greater discretion in doling out port tax credits for businesses that ship cargo, under a bill passed in the last week of the 2013 regular legislative session.
Palmetto State officials just can’t seem to give away taxpayer money fast enough to one of the nation’s wealthiest corporations.
The normally secretive S.C. Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved taxpayer-backed incentives Thursday for seven “confidential” projects and moved more than $1.3 million from a dormant account to beef up its deal-closing fund.
More than a month after Gov. Nikki Haley signed a rushed bill into law giving aerospace giant Boeing Co. a $120 million taxpayer-funded gift, neither she nor state commerce officials have publicly released specifics on how the money will be spent.
Death isn’t cheap these days.
The S.C. House and Senate Finance Committee versions of the fiscal 2014 state budget include $5 million for regional economic-development groups.
Two bills that would create an “angel-investor” law have advanced in the S.C. General Assembly after the late January release of a study on the difficulty of young, “high-growth” businesses statewide to gain access to capital.
The Medical University of South Carolina and College of Charleston together would receive $4 million out of a proposed $6 million in state funding for a business-incubator program that has been kept largely under wraps by the S.C. Department of Commerce, documents show.
Without much deliberation or debate, a House Ways and Means subcommittee on Wednesday approved sending four wide-ranging bills spanning the spectrum of economic development, from million-dollar tax credits for the state's largest manufacturers to $10,000 “microenterprise” loans.
In the blink of an eye Thursday on a conference call behind closed doors in the S.C. Department of Commerce's 16th-floor office, up to $8 million in taxpayer-backed incentives were doled out to some of the state's largest corporations with no members of the public and only The Nerve present.
When it comes to transparency of taxpayer-backed incentives for business projects, the Palmetto State received an “F” in a recently released study by a national nonprofit consumer group.
Two bills in the S.C. General Assembly would make it easier for "clean"-energy producers to receive state incentives by expanding the definition of eligible companies and lowering certain investment and job-creation requirements.
A planned distrbution center in Rock Hill for Ross Stores Inc. will cost taxpayers more than $22 million over the next 15 years, according to state incentives documents obtained by The Nerve.
The S.C. Department of Commerce has slipped in a $6 million business-incubator program to the proposed 2013-14 state budget that passed the House Wednesday.
Large distribution centers would be eligible for millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded bonds under a state Senate bill quietly introduced last week.
Officials on Wednesday announced that a new recycling plant is coming to Aiken County, though they were mum on the taxpayer cost of the project.
Despite evidence from studies that reveal subsidies for Hollywood cost taxpayers, a Senate Finance subcommittee approved a bill Wednesday that would increase the percentage of rebates offered to the state's motion picture industry.
A plan to create a revenue stream for some state parks has compelled the S.C. Budget and Control Board to make the state tourism department a landlord for a private company that plans to develop a resort on 325 acres on Hartwell Lake in Oconee County.
Gov. Nikki Haley during a press conference Friday said no incentives were offered to Time Warner Cable for a $24 million improvement project that would add 644 jobs to the company's South Carolina headquarters in Lexington County.
An largely in-the-shadows state panel on Thursday approved $6 million in new grants for 12 non-confidential economic development projects.
Although nearly two years behind schedule, the planned South Carolina Tissue plant in Barnwell County will get at least $475,000 in incentives as a prelude to construction – courtesy of the S.C. Budget and Control Board.
This story is a republication of the first story that launched The Nerve.
A state economic development agency created by lawmakers more than two years ago but not yet in operation would get its first budget next fiscal year – nearly $22 million – under a proposed spending plan released publicly last week.
Two state economic development panels over the past year have offered taxpayer-supported incentives to companies even though the firms lowered their intial job-creation targets, a review by The Nerve found.
Tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer-backed incentives are doled out annually by a little-known panel known as the Enterprise Program Committee.
A nonprofit group formed between state-owned Santee Cooper and 20 electric cooperatives served by the utility hopes to grow South Carolina’s industrial base by offering rate discounts to new or expanding companies.
If state taxpayers want to know what they received for the more than $300,000 spent by Gov. Nikki Haley and others on advertised economic development junkets to Europe last year and in July, they’ll have to keep waiting.
Indeed, a little-known clause in the constitution empowers the General Assembly to change the tax rate on manufacturing and industrial property – and, for that matter, all forms of taxed property – by simply voting to do so.
An effort to give South Carolina taxpayers a better sense of whether they get their money’s worth in economic development incentives could be generating more discussion, if not greater support.
Palmetto State people harmed by fraud-closure scams are looking to the Legislature for more help, they might have better luck looking for someone who wants to sell them some land – like – in Dust Bowl Oklahoma.
Gov. Nikki Haley apparently doesn’t want an economic development agency that exists only on paper to receive an additional $3 million this fiscal year, while a lawmaker is questioning why it’s taking so long to launch the agency.
If South Carolinians want to know who some state legislators are looking out for in economic development incentives – taxpayers or corporations – a fly on the wall at a recent hearing might say it all.
The South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a mostly government-funded nonprofit that acts like a private consulting firm, could get a nearly 30 percent state funding increase this fiscal year.
Despite the state spending hundreds of millions on economic development, a new report suggests South Carolina taxpayers are not getting their money’s worth in state government’s efforts to create jobs.
The University of South Carolina couldn't provide The Nerve with verification of its job-creation and research claims for its Innovista campus.
Continental Tire North America received a $35 million state grant for its new manufacturing plant in Sumter County - the largest grant of its kind in recent years, a Nerve review has found.
The S.C. General Assembly on the last day of regular session last week pushed through a reworked bill offering a huge tax break to three tire manufacturers in the state.
More than 90 percent of businesses in South Carolina have 100 or fewer employees, but the people who run those businesses say they feel ignored by state officials.
A bill that has moved another step closer to passing would have the state subsidize early-stage venture capital investing on top of three existing programs that do more or less the same thing.
The state and counties of Lexington and Anderson are doling out millions to Michelin North America for an $750 million expansion project that officials say will bring 500 jobs.
An S.C. House bill that originally provided additional taxpayer-backed incentives to national corporate headquarters locating in South Carolina has been retooled to extend certain tax breaks to attract large data centers, such as those operated by Google and Facebook.
Clemson gets OK to boost budget for wind turbine test facility by $21 million.
An amended S.C. House bill would extend a taxpayer-backed incentive to companies that use professional employer organizations.
Imagine being an investment broker without the information necessary to keep clients apprised of how their assets are performing: no price-to-earnings data, no quarterly profit statements, no tax liability numbers. Doesn’t sound like a very promising career path as a financial adviser, does it?
Even before Boeing announced plans to build in South Carolina, the aerospace company showed it knew how to play the political game.
More than two years after the S.C. General Assembly approved the first chunk of a huge incentives package for Boeing, state taxpayers still don't know what exactly their investiment is or what they're getting for their money.
New examples of investment capital available to startup South Carolina companies call into question an argument for state government to get more involved in the venture capital business.
The S.C. General Assembly has thrown its support behind a federal agency that free market advocates decry as a corporate welfare shop for politically connected mega-corporations.
South Carolina companies would have an easier time getting state contracts of more than $500,000 under an S.C. House bill, though some critics contend that taxpayers could wind up paying more if the proposal becomes law.
The latest S.C. House proposal to eliminate many state sales tax exemptions is a watered-down version of another House bill that has been stuck in committee, a review by The Nerve has found.
A Senate Finance subcommittee enhanced the House version of a bill that would offer millions in tax credits to the solar industry.
South Carolina’s state-driven economic development efforts have received glowing reviews lately from some national trade publications. But is there something more to the accolades than just positive recognition?
A little-known state economic development agency created two years ago but not yet in operation would grow even more under the S.C. Senate’s version of a bill creating a Department of Administration.
Despite glowing job announcements over the past year, neither Gov. Nikki Haley nor the S.C. Department of Commerce can produce records showing the number of actual jobs created to date.
Despite receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-backed incentives from South Carolina, aerospace giant Boeing is not a public body under the state’s whistleblower law, a federal judge has ruled.
Bridgestone Americas has been offered at least $57 million in incentives over 10 years to add a new plant and expand its existing plant at its Aiken County site.
A legislative showdown is brewing over an S.C. Senate bill that would create another state agency whose purported goal is to improve economic conditions in historically poor, rural counties along Interstate 95.
The state's open-records law for more than 30 years has shielded the S.C. General Assembly from releasing documents showing what it does behind the scenes.
A South Korean car manufacturer never came to South Carolina, despite being offered state and local incentives.
Aerospace giant Boeing properly spent $270 million in S.C. taxpayer-backed bond proceeds given to the Chicago-based company for its North Charleston assembly plant, state Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt said in a letter obtained Thursday by The Nerve.
The Boeing Co. isn't required by the state to verify that the $270 million in taxpayer-backed bonds it received for its North Charleston plant was properly spent.
The Charleston County Council Finance Committee on approved two recommendations by the Economic Development Department on Sept. 22 to support investments in manufacturing facilities in the county.
A hotel chain headquartered in the Upstate moved its headquarters out of state, despite receiving millions in state incentives.
More than eight months after a small, young California company announced it would locate a $460 million solar-cell manufacturing plant in Richland County, creating a purported 1,000 jobs over four years, the massive building it’s supposed to go in remains empty.
On paper, the recently created S.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority will have at least $28.8 million in available revenues this fiscal year, though nothing has been spent yet, a state Budget and Control Board spokeswoman told The Nerve last week.
A large South Carolina delegation to the Paris Air Show in June included two mid-level employees in Gov. Nikki Haley’s office, the then-spokeswoman for the S.C. Department of Commerce and state Sen. Hugh Leatherman, according to documents obtained from Haley’s office.
State officials have been silent on the total costs of the Paris Air Show.
While the S.C. Research Authority may cloak itself in an air of mystery, there’s little doubt that state leaders have attached significant importance to the agency’s role in developing the state’s “knowledge economy.”
S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis might have unwittingly opened a debate about whether the sale of $270 million in state bonds to help aerospace giant Boeing build an aircraft assembly plant in North Charleston violated the S.C. Constitution.
South Carolina taxpayers will cover nearly $362 million in bond costs over the next 15 years for Boeing’s aircraft assembly plant under construction in North Charleston, according to bond sale records reviewed by The Nerve.
A 15-member committee controlled by the Legislature would dole out taxpayer money to promote economic development in 17 counties in the Lowcountry and Pee Dee under a state Senate bill.
South Carolina and Greenville County taxpayers won’t be getting any magic carpet rides with the construction of the Proterra electric- and hybrid-powered bus assembly plant in Greenville.
The initial version of the 50-page "Economic Development Competitiveness Act" bill, introduced in January by S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell, gave the Commerce secretary control over one-third, or $10 million, of the annual $30 million in lottery money earmarked for the S.C. Centers of Economic Excellence, also known as the endowed professor chairs program.
No. That’s often the favorite word of state and local government officials when asked to reveal details of taxpayer-funded incentives given to businesses.
Boeing relied on some Palmetto State powerbrokers to negotiate for a state incentives package valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.
Boeing workers share their views on one of the biggest-announced industrial projects in state history.
A legislative panel this morning gave another $100 million taxpayer-funded gift to the Boeing Co., bringing the total state bond package for a new assembly plant in North Charleston to at least $270 million.
Many South Carolinians may not recognize the name of the man associated with the controversial Okatie Crossings development project, but don’t underestimate his influence – or ability to generate controversy.
Many of the claims by Senate leaders about the Boeing incentives deal were misleading.
For the next 15 years, South Carolina taxpayers will be paying back nearly $400 million in bonds, including interest, for the new Boeing assembly plant in North Charleston.
What S.C. lawmakers didn’t reveal in October 2009 when they rushed through an economic incentives package for Boeing was that it will cost state taxpayers tens of millions of dollars – and possibly several hundred million – more than what was said in the official record.