June, 2015

A Better Tomorrow: Policy Reform and the Limitations of State-Led Targeted Economic Development

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This paper analyzes the economic literature on whether state-led targeted economic development creates jobs and boosts real economic growth within a region. Particular attention is paid to the political economy of state-led development and, because targeted development projects commonly offer tax incentives, the components of a good tax code. With this framework in mind, this paper then develops a qualitative case study on the economic development projects in Sevier County, Tennessee. This paper finds that the tools needed to accurately assess the value of state-led targeted economic development projects, which include transparency, retrospective analyses, and economic impact analyses, are lacking for Sevier County in particular and the state of Tennessee as a whole.