Training people to start a business is better for job creation than incentives, UNC exec says

Posted December 22, 2008 3:19 p.m. EST

The former head of the Appalachian Regional Commission says helping people start their own business is more cost effective than paying companies to create jobs.

Jesse White, who now directs the Office of Economic Development at UNC-Chapel Hill, told a North Carolina General Assembly legislative commission on poverty it’s often difficult to convince companies to move into poor rural areas. White spoke on Friday before the Study Commission on Poverty Reduction and Economic Recovery.

The debate over tax and other incentives designed to lure new companies to the state or convince existing ones to expand within N.C. has generated considerable controversy in recent years. Law suits against incentives for Dell’s large PC manufacturing facility in the Triad and Google’s data center in the city of Lenoir were filed but rejected by the courts.

White said the Appalachian Regional Commission spent $100,000 a few years ago to train 200 people how to start their own business.

“A year later I went back and a hundred of those people had businesses up and running, bakeries, limo service to the airport, child care facilities,” he said. “One of them…a lady had a bakery and the lady had actually hired two people off of welfare to work for her.”

Added White: “That is a lot cheaper than trying to pay companies to stay.”

He said some of the anticipated stimulus money could go toward that training.