Why Did The Job Cross The Road?

Why did the job cross the road? To get tax incentives of course!

Typically I try to spread out my  planet money podcast sessions so I can binge listen to episodes on a long dog hike or kayak trip.

On my latest binge session I was pleasantly surprise to hear them discuss a local topic! The business border war between Missouri and Kansas.

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Listen to the podcast here

States across the country are at war right now. A war over jobs. They are competing with each other to get companies to move within their borders. Politicians love to call this “job creation.”

States dangle incentives like tax breaks, training programs, freshly paved roads. According to one study, states all over the country are spending $70 billion a year to “create” jobs. But is it really creating a job if it came from a few miles away across the state border?

Usually, this competition happens over great distances: California and New York battle it out over tech start-ups, New Jersey and Georgia fight for car companies. But in Kansas City, which straddles two states, Kansas and Missouri, this war is happening very close up, right along State Line Road.

On today’s show, when “creating” new jobs is a matter of moving an office across the street, things can get a little out of hand.

The courtship for companies has gotten so intense around Kansas City there are code names, top secret documents, multi-million dollar deals and of course, those tax breaks. One local attorney who helps companies cash in on all this, calls it, “probably the worst public policy in the history of the world.”

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