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Some Not Pleased With Corporate Incentives Used To Lure Businesses To N.C.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The state will spend millions of dollars in taxpayer money in an attempt to create new jobs. Early Wednesday morning, lawmakers signed off on an incentive package designed to lure new businesses such as Merck Pharmaceuticals to North Carolina, but the deal is not being well-received by some across the state.

Jed Packer has owned 1st Class Automotive, an auto repair shop off Capital Boulevard in Raleigh, for 20 years. He said economic incentives aimed at luring a couple of big businesses to the state have him feeling like a second-class business owner.

"It doesn't give me the warm fuzzies, I can tell you that," he said.

Packer said small businesses like his do not get any help from the state, yet they account for three out of every four new jobs. The National Federation of Independent Businesses backs that statement and contends it is a myth that companies will not come without a big package of incentives.

"Businesses look at things like education. They look at cost of living, quality of life, transportation," said Perri Morgan, of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

State lawmakers agreed Wednesday morning to provide up to $36 million in cash and tax breaks to drug manufacturer Merck to bring a $300 million vaccine plant to Durham County.

The incentives package for Merck Pharmaceuticals concerns environmentalists. They claim a proposed plant north of Durham would not be subject to an enviromental study.

"If the state waives this requirement, an environmental review for one company, surely, other companies are going to demand this down the road," said Jane Preyer, of North Carolina Environmental Defense.

Gov. Mike Easley said Wednesday that Merck was too important to pass up.

"This project is going to be the one that sets North Carolina apart in bio-tech and represents the jobs of the future," he said.

The financial incentives for Merck include $24 million to help purchase the land at Treyburn Corporate Park and about a $5 million tax rebate on building materials.


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