States Use Tax Breaks in War for Jobs

Tax incentives have become a competitive weapon as states try to lure employers or keep them happy

New Jersey is granting Panasonic a $102.4 million tax credit to move its North American headquarters—nine miles. The incentives, announced on Apr. 20, will help defray the cost of leasing a new high-rise office tower to be built in Newark to replace Panasonic's digs in Secaucus, which the Japanese electronics maker has outgrown.

The company concedes that its decision to stay in New Jersey, where it employs 800 workers, was swayed by the tax break. Peter Fannon, vice-president of technology policy at Panasonic North America, says the company fielded "quite competitive" offers from Atlanta, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Brooklyn, N.Y., among others. Says Fannon: "We would not be in New Jersey without [this program]." Officials in the town of Secaucus don't see it as a win for their state, though. "We shouldn't be using tax dollars to play one municipality off of another," says town administrator David Drumeler.

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