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    Crucial Conversation

    Business Incentives – Where they work and where they don’t.


    No single issue is more “front and center” in the modern political debate than the state of our economy. Among other things, North Carolinians want to know:

    • What, if anything, can policymakers do to stimulate growth and create jobs?
    • How can we assure that the price of economic growth does not involve worker exploitation?

    To help address these critical questions, NC Policy Watch is holding a series of special Crucial Conversation luncheons.  Prof. Bill Lester of the Department of City and Regional Planning at UNC Chapel Hill was invited to unveil an important new study entitled "Mediating Incentives."

    According to Lester, there are circumstances in which incentives can work — if we’re smart about where, when and how we pursue them.  "Economic development incentives remain a controversial yet heavily used tool to attract jobs to states and communities.  In this paper, we show that--rather than being patently good or bad--when NC grants incentives in areas of the economy that it already makes long-run strategic investments, employment outcomes are improved.  Our research suggests that incentives can be used in a smarter way and that state institutions that mediate industry-state interactions are critical."

    Link to the full paper:
    Mediating Incentive Use: A Time-Series Assessment of Economic Development Deals in North Carolina
    This paper was co-authored with Nichola Lowe and Allan Freyer

    More information

    Bill Lester
    joined the DCRP faculty in the Fall of 2010 as an assistant professor specializing in economic development. His research focuses on the role of labor market institutions in fostering greater equity at the urban and metropolitan scales.

    + Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
    + MUPP, University of Illinois at Chicago
    + B.A., University of Pennsylvania

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