Alabama’s new economic development Game Plan was signed into law last week. The Game Plan is a package of four bills that renew and expand the state’s incentives. It includes:
- Renewal and expansion of the Jobs Act and Growing Alabama Act
- Grants for development of industry-ready sites
- Support for innovation and small business
- Incentive transparency requirements
The last element, the Transparency in Incentives Act (SB151/HB240), requires the Alabama Department of Commerce to publish Jobs Act project information on its website, including:
- Name of the company
- Estimated capital investment
- Number of jobs being created
- Estimated hourly wage
- Estimated value of the incentives
- Project location
- Cash incentives extended for the project
- Projected return to the state
A Game Plan bill summary also states that aggregated performance data on all incentivized projects will be made available.
According to an AL.com article, all the Game Plan bills, including the Transparency in Incentives Act, passed with near unanimous support. Alabama’s Commerce Secretary also expressed his support, stating that a growing number of states post this information online and that it is important to share more information with the public.
This bill is really about trust and providing information to the public, to the taxpayer, so that they can see what offers we’re making and what agreements we’ve entered into.Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield
The bill also appears to change some of the structure and functions of the Joint Legislative Advisory Committee on Economic Incentives. Notably, this includes the ability to request that a third-party evaluation be conducted assessing the impacts of state economic development incentives.
From our perspective, greater incentive transparency is one of the most important and positive incentive trends over the past decade. Researchers from Alabama’s Hoover Institution noted that several nearby states, including North Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and Virginia already have incentive information portals for public disclosure. Incentive project transparency has moved from cutting edge to standard economic development practice.