Sony Site: Merely Renting Jobs with Corporate Welfare

Last week, the state gave $10 million to rehabilitate the former site of a Sony plant—marking the fourth time taxpayer funding has been used to “create jobs” at the exact same location. Here is a letter I wrote to the Tribune Review:

Brad Bumsted and Brian Bowling offered a good synopsis of the critiques of Gov. Rendell’s spending spree and use of taxpayer debt to fund “economic development” projects. The process of awarding corporate welfare to attract companies ballooned under Gov. Rendell, but began decades before. A perfect case study can be found in Rich Cholodofsky’s piece the following day on the $10 million taxpayer-funded grant the state will give to rehabilitate the “Sony site” in Westmoreland County.

Amazingly, this will represent at least the fourth occasion taxpayers will be forced to hand over their hard-earned dollars to subsidize the same location. Sony moved out in 2007, despite getting over $40 million in corporate welfare under Gov. Bob Casey to come to Pennsylvania, then another $1 million grant under Gov. Rendell to stay in the state—a mere two years before shutting down their plant.

Before Sony, the site was occupied by Volkswagen, which got $70 million in state aid in the 1970s under Gov. Milton Shapp. This was touted as a great success … until Volkswagen moved out in 1987 after ten years of operation.

Pennsylvania is merely renting jobs with this economic development spending, burdening other businesses with higher taxes. Hopefully, Gov. Tom Corbett can learn from the failed policies of the past, and work on improving the state’s economic climate rather than try to pick winners.