Watchdog group gives Georgia an F in disclosing incentives

A Washington-based government watchdog group has given Georgia an F for not disclosing online the incentives it offers when luring businesses or whether companies live up to promises about job numbers or wage rates once they relocate.

Good Jobs First, a group whose members come from labor, environmental and nonprofit organizations, found this week that Georgi is among 13 states and the District of Columbia that offer no accounting on their websites of expenditures for five of their most popular or most-used subsidy and incentive programs.

In Georgia that includes payroll withholding credits, and grants and loans to local development authorities on behalf of specific relocation projects when there is competition with another state.

Good Jobs First said putting the information on the Web brings transparency.

"Whenever taxpayer money is being diverted to private parties, the public has a right to know how it is being used and if it achieved the intended results," said Philip Mattera, a research director for the nonprofit, non-partisan group.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development, which oversees the state's efforts to lure relocating companies, declined to comment on the findings, published this week in God Jobs First's report, "Show Us the Subsidies."

In addition to tax incentives, Good Jobs First looked for salary information, job creation numbers, employment needs of communities and whether the businesses located around public transportation.

Former Kennesaw State University Coles College of Business head Tim Mescon defended Georgia, saying the state's success speaks for itself. Recent arrivals Kia Motors and NCR Corp. received subsidies of about $410 million and $109 million, respectively.

Kia recently announced it is adding 1,000 jobs and NCR is expanding, said Mescon, who is now president of Columbus State University.