Deception: Privately Funded Economic Development

In the December 6 county commission agenda packet, the North Florida Economic Development Partnership has a request for a $150,000 grant from state taxpayers. The request lists the amount local governments have paid in (Jefferson was $1,473), and then on the following page it listed “Private Sector Financial and/or In-Kind Support”.
The first two entries were from the “US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration”, which is a federally-funded agency of the US government. Not surprising to me was that the amount appropriated from taxpayers ($85,937.50 or over 69% of the total) was far more than the other true private sector donors such as Duke Energy.
It’s worth noting that of the 7 unique contributors, only 4 were truly private entities. Other government contributors included Bradford County, and the innocent sounding Career Source CLM.
When I looked up the latter, I found they were created via an act of Congress in 1998, which was repealed in 2014 and replaced by a similar act. The current act takes $3.3 billion from taxpayers annually.
The total tally for “private” funding here was $123,437.50. The actual private amount contributed was only $22,500 or 18%. Taxpayer-funded agencies accounted for almost 82% of the funding.
Economic development is something best left to the private sector, but with deceptive practices like this, who really knows when this is taking place? It is also human nature that if someone is giving you something for “free”, you’ll take it. It’s past time to remove the taxpayer from the economic development equation.

Paul Henry