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Charlotte leaders call for special session to tackle jobs bills

Three Charlotte leaders on Friday joined a growing statewide call for Gov. Pat McCrory to reconvene state legislators in a special session to tackle unfinished legislation to create jobs.

Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter, Mecklenburg County commissioners Chairman Trevor Fuller and Charlotte Chamber President and CEO Bob Morgan sent McCrory a jointly signed letter imploring the governor to bring legislators back to Raleigh to address items “left undone” before adjournment in August that they say are “critical to growing the state’s economy.”

After a gathering of community college trustees in Charlotte Thursday night, McCrory said it will likely take another two weeks before he decides if he’ll call for a special session.

The undone legislation include:

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Expanding the state’s Job Development Investment Grant:

The three said the grant is North Carolina’s most important job recruitment tool. “This is a highly successful program with strong legal claw-backs and excellent performance-based program design,” they wrote. Failing to authorize and expand the program would cripple recruiters bringing new jobs to the state, they said.



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Renewable energy tax credit:

The incentive has had a positive impact on rural and urban counties, encouraging sustainable renewable energy technologies. The growth of these businesses is transforming Charlotte into an energy hub, they wrote.



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Film tax credit:

The incentives program has lured movie and TV productions to North Carolina that “would not be here otherwise,” they wrote. They called on the legislature to extend the credit “until a thorough review is completed.” The state’s 25 percent tax credit program will expire at year’s end if legislators don’t rescue it. Under that program, movie and TV production companies can be refunded on 25 percent of salaries and money spent on taxable items in the state – up to $20 million per project.



If it expires, it will be replaced by a $10 million grant program for the first six months of next year.

“The funds in these job development programs are running out very quickly,” Fuller said. “We won’t be able to capitalize on a number of opportunities if we don’t get some legislation.”

Fuller said the film and historic preservation incentives are issues important to Mecklenburg and surrounding counties. The HBO series “Homeland” was primarily shot in the region before announcing last April that it was moving to South Africa.

This week, the company shooting the “Banshee” television series, much of it in the Charlotte region, announced it was moving to Louisiana. That state offers a 30 percent tax credit to movie and TV production companies spending more than $300,000 in the state and another 5 percent on resident labor costs. Last year, the series’ second season, the production spent more than $67 million in North Carolina, and was refunded $16.8 million from the incentives program, state records show.

“The importance of this industry in your state just seems like a no-brainer to me,” Fuller said. “There’s something about having that industry in your state; it helps promotes the beauty of our state and how it’s so adaptable to representing different locations. Homeland was set in northern Virginia and (Washington) D.C., but they filmed it here.”

Some opponents don’t like tax incentives, and say the the industry inflates numbers of long-terms jobs brought to the state. Others say the money the state spends on incentives could go to fund other more pressing needs.

McCrory has heard similar calls from throughout the state – including from his own commerce secretary, Sharon Decker of Charlotte. Decker said she didn’t think the state could wait until January to address the issues.

At the Thursday gathering of community college trustees, McCrory said he wants to evaluate “where the gaps are” in legislation that failed to pass. “I’ll be evaluating also (the question of) can you wait until the January session to do certain things that were not fulfilled this session,” the governor said. “And also I’m looking at the votes – whether or not the votes are there or if there are counter proposals that would get those votes.” Staff Writer Eric Frazier contributed.

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