North Carolina state legislative leaders proposed changes to economic-development incentives Thursday, even as inquiries mount about tech giant Apple’s interest in locating in Research Triangle Park.
Lawmakers are targeting companies that would invest at least $1 billion and create at least 3,000 jobs — saying their plan will make it easier for major companies to qualify for financial incentives.
Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, speaking at a 10 a.m. Thursday news conference, said the incentives aren’t designed for any one specific company.
Although they said they could not talk about negotiations with Apple, the announcement comes amid rising interest in what incentives might be needed for RTP to land the company’s major project.
Apple announced in January it would be looking for a site to establish another campus, which will bring thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in investments wherever it lands.
The company and political leaders are interested in tailoring a financial incentives package that could seal the deal, as Apple is also reportedly still looking at other states.
North Carolina’s Job Development Investment Grant allows companies to take a tax credit against employee withholding taxes.
Last year the General Assembly included in the state budget a change to that program aimed at attracting the biggest of projects, known as “transformative,” that bring at least a $4 billion investment and 5,000 new jobs. Berger and Moore’s latest proposal would lower that threshold to $1 billion and 3,000 jobs.
The counted jobs would not include those filled by citizens of foreign countries in the United States on H-1B work visas, they said.
The changes would also allow companies that locate a transformative project in North Carolina to get credit for later expansions of their workforce. And they would eliminate a $6,500-per-job cap on incentives awards.
“We learned a lot of valuable lessons from the near-misses,” said Moore, a Cleveland County Republican, mentioning the loss of potential automotive manufacturing facilities — including a Toyota plant. “We left everything on the field there.”
The legislature returned for its short session on Wednesday, to work on changes to its state budget.
This story is developing and will be updated.