by Ben Davis
Every year, the IEDC gives millions of dollars in subsidies to companies to create jobs and grow the economy. As laid out in our Following the Money report, transparency is necessary for Hoosiers to hold companies that receive these funds accountable for delivering on the economic growth set forth in subsidy agreements. Once citizens know details on the recipient companies and subsidies, they can prevent tax dollars from being wasted on projects that fail to produce the intended public benefit.
The IEDC’s new website is a big step forward to transparency. It's comprehensive – covering a range of subsidy programs from several years. It's user-friendly – allowing users to create targeted searches that filter through the extensive list of recipient companies and download the results for offline analysis. A particularly beneficial feature of the website is it provides the copies of subsidy contracts – very few other states follow this best practice.
The website aside, Indiana has one of the best systems in the country to make sure tax dollars are not wasted on development projects that do not grow the economy. The IEDC has inserted clawback clauses into subsidy contracts that allow the state to recoup the money from companies that fail to create the jobs agreed upon in the contract. For example, if a company receives a $100,000 tax credit and agrees to create 50 jobs but only creates 30, the IEDC can take back a portion of the funds. The IEDC’s new website provides details on the funds recouped – an exemplary standard that development agencies in other states should follow.
The one place the website could improve is by posting the economic growth actually created by company recipients. While visitors can view the number of jobs agreed to be created and the funds recouped when companies fail to create them, visitors cannot view the number of jobs actually created. This missing link is necessary to provide Hoosiers with a complete picture of the companies’ performances in growing the economy.