DeSoto County saw a record-breaking year for economic development in 2019. That’s according to the DeSoto County Economic Development Council (EDC), which is the entity charged with promoting the county to industries considering a new location or expansion.
DeSoto Council President/CEO Jim Flanagan released last year’s figures on Wednesday morning, Jan. 22. Flanagan said the 12 new locations and the 13 industrial expansions that came to DeSoto County last year is creating 2,762 new jobs. Industry is injecting a $525 million investment in DeSoto County, Flanagan’s report indicates.
“These are generated from a very diversified group of companies,” said Flanagan. “Health care-related, warehousing, distribution, logistics, and manufacturing. We continue to see expansions within our existing industrial sector, which I think reflects the healthy economy in which we’ve been able to sustain our success.”
The record declaration comes in the number of new jobs and capital investment. The new jobs are the most since 2016, when 2,321 jobs were created by business expansion in DeSoto County. The $525 million investment figure also eclipses the $300 capital investment amount achieved back in 2010.
There are several reasons that are pointed to behind what brings new business to DeSoto County.
“We have a stable tax base, an ease of doing business, a responsible inducement package established by the Board of Supervisors and the municipalities,” Flanagan pointed out. “We have quality public schools, a secure suburban environment next door to amenities that a larger city offers, and recreational amenities.”
Residents may rankle a bit when they hear of all of the tax incentives the county and cities provide new business. But, Flanagan pointed out that competition is fierce in the business world.
“Companies can locate or expand anywhere in the country and even abroad,” he said. “This enables us to be competitive, at the same time to never allow our growth to outstrip our infrastructure.”
It is also pointed out that the incentives never involve tax breaks for some vital services.
“The county and the municipalities determined some years ago that a more responsible approach to business incentives is to ensure that schools are taken care,” Flanagan explained. “That’s why school property taxes have never been exempt from any company that has located or expanded here. There is not an exemption for road and bridge taxes, not an exemption for parks and library taxes, fire protection, and public safety in the municipalities.”
Flanagan argues the business incentives actually establish stability in local property taxes, which he said would be higher if not for the incentives that bring new industry to DeSoto County.
“A company recognizes that when they locate or expand here, that they will enjoy the same stability as they operate on a long-term basis,” said Flanagan.
The inducements for the record-breaking numbers on job and business growth do come with accountability to assure the business concern is actually providing the jobs they promised to bring.
“We monitor job growth and capital investment as the county and cities enter into agreements with the industry,” Flanagan said. “It is incumbent on the company to also recognize that they are accountable to the taxpayers for the capital investment and the jobs that they say they are going to create.”
While there were 25 new and expanded industries for DeSoto County last year, there have been as many as 38 to come to the county, which took place in 2015. The capital investment and job creation numbers still make 2019 a record-setting year.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.