Hear are some details of the proposals as reported by the St.Louis Post Dispatch:
* The state would spend $3 million more a year to attract amateur sporting events.
* Incentives to encourage high tech data warehouses that invest at least $36 million and hire at least 30 people.
* The centerpiece the jobs bill would be the so-called "Aerotropolis", a $23O million tax credit plan for companies that arrange international shipments out of Lambert St.Louis International Airport and for companies that build refridgerated warehouses in "gateway zones".
Among the sites that may qualify include the abandoned auto plants in Fenton and Hazelwood, large sites in St.Charles County and the Northpark development, which is east of the airport. One of the developers is Paul McKee, a veteran corporate welfare king in St.Louis known best for using close to $28 Million in "Distressed Areas Land Assemblage" tax credits to buy up properties in north St.Louis. In fact, McKee is the only one to ever use that tax credit. It's almost as if the tax credit was designed just for him. Now he may get tax credits to develop some of those properties.
While supporters of the Aerotropolis plan, including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, say the tax credits will transform the region and create tens of thousands of jobs, critics aren't so sure. One sceptict is Greg Lindsay, the author who coined the fraise "aerotropolis". He thinks St.Louis is unlikely to become a major cargo hub. Lindsay was quoted in the St.Louis Post Dispatch saying "Chinese carriers will come until the subsidies run out, then they look again at their balance sheets and pull out. It's really hard to build that critical mass with Chicago and Dallas so close."
We hear a lot these days about the "job creators", but once again it's the taxpayers who are being asked to make a risky investment so that private enterprises can reap the rewards, if there are any. This at a time when corporations and the big banks are sitting on massive cash reserves and playing it safe.
Maybe "aerotrpolis" will usher in a new age of prosperity for the region, but it seems more likely that it will be an ugly sequil to the "Ballpark Village" fiasco.
The plan faces some opposition, even in the business friendly republican controlled legislature. Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, points out that some of the money to pay for the plan will be raised by ending a tax break for senior citizens who rent. Said Crowell, "You're taking from old people and giving to developers."