No one running to be Nashville’s next mayor has promised to end corporate subsidies, but their appetites for incentives do vary.
WPLN asked the six major candidates their general feeling on tax breaks and cash grants for companies. Companies would get celebrity treatment with businesswoman Linda Rebrovick as mayor.
“I am very much in favor of recruiting and attracting new businesses and rolling out the red carpet for them,” she says.
Under the current mayor’s leadership, the city has had some big wins – from attracting a new UBS office to big expansions for both HCA and Bridgestone.
“And part of that has been through using corporate subsidies,” says at-large Metro Councilwoman Megan Barry, who has voted in favor of those incentive packages because she considers them good for the local economy.
Charter school founder Jeremy Kane argued to reduce the recent deal with Bridgestone in order to preserve school funding. But he wants to make clear he's not entirely opposed.
“I’m in favor of incentives,” he says.
Same for developer Bill Freeman, though he doesn’t give much color to explain his philosophy, even when pressed.
“I think providing incentives for companies to relocate to our state and especially to our city is something we ought to explore,” Freeman says.
Everyone seems to bemoan the increasing role of government money in corporate relocations and expansions. But former school board chairman David Fox says it’s a necessary evil.
“If we were to just unilaterally disarm, I think we would see it be both quite difficult to recruit big employers. But I think we’d also lose some big employers,” he says.
Only one candidate suggests it might be to change course, if only slightly – attorney Charles Robert Bone.
“While I don’t think we should pull back and try to slow the momentum we have, I think we are at a point where we could be a little more judicious,” Bone says.
Parts of town that haven’t benefited from recent economic development projects should at least be prioritized, he says.
The candidates, uncut: