Governor Cooper’s announcement early this week that he and the legislature have signed a deal costing the state $18 million to bring a portion of the U.S. Golf Association (USGA) operations to Pinehurst is another example of the disconnect elected officials have with the economic conditions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent government mandated business restrictions.

This announcement smacks of cronyism and is definitely the wrong message at the worst moment.

Wednesday the governor announced that the state is underwriting the construction of a golf museum, a visitor’s center and a golf research base in Pinehurst and as a result the USGA will re-locate a portion of its headquarters currently in Liberty Corner, N.J., to the Moore county village. The USGA is the governing body for professional golf in the U.S. and Mexico, conducting 14 national championship golf tournaments including the U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, as well as testing golf equipment for conformity.

In return the USGA will invest $36 million in Pinehurst and will hire 50 people, with 35 being new hires at an average salary of $80,000. That investment will start in 2022.

There’s nothing wrong with the state trying to enhance and diversify the state’s economy but it is both a bad visual and a tone deaf signal when it comes at taxpayer expense in an environment of economic distress brought on by government mandate business closure, primarily impacting the hospitality industry.

It is ironic that, as the governor was making the announcement, tavern and bar owners were preparing to rally at the governor’s mansion in Raleigh to decry their forced closure while bowling alleys, gyms and restaurants are allowed to open, albeit with very reduced customer numbers.

A recent article by Kari Travis of the Carolina Journal decried the announcement as an example of cronyism noting that once again the governor, with the aid of the General Assembly, picked winners and losers in the state’s economy by doling out taxpayer supported funds. In this case the winners are the Pinehurst Resort and USGA and the losers are the taxpayers.

Establishing incentives to attract business investment is nothing new either in North Carolina’s political or economic history. Business incentive packages are a game played among all the states as their economic development arms provide justification for their existence. So cronyism is to be expected- it’s who you know and what shiny new thing is being offered that gets the attention as the USGA proposal did.

But this announcement is particularly galling since it comes at a time when many businesses in the hospitality industry are experiencing financial disaster as a result of the very politicians, who are taking credit for economic growth, have diminished those prospects for others. Approximately 170,000 hospitality workers remain unemployed as the governor’s mandates restrict the numbers of customers served in restaurants and keeps bars and taverns closed under the guise to reducing the coronavirus contagion. It should be noted the governor’s original intentions were to “bend the curve” of people infected which succeeded months ago, and yet his restrictions remain in place.

The result of these mandates is the almost daily announcement of hospitality businesses that had intended to be closed temporarily are now closing permanently. This week’s announcement that the K&W Cafeteria chain is closing permanently puts formerly temporarily unemployed staffers now permanently unemployed.

Ms. Travis’ Carolina Journal article delineates numbers that should concern taxpayers and should be a concern to all elected officials. Billed as the Championship NC Act, the governor with the legislature’s approval is underwriting the $18 million giveaway with $3.5 million from the One North Carolina Fund, a discretionary cash grant that the governor can use for “job-creation projects” and $100,000 from the Job Development Investment Grant. This leaves $14.5 million yet to be funded, And there are yet undefined tax breaks coming from the state.

It is worth noting that many of these funds are designed to finance investments in low income regions of the state identified as Tier 1 or 2 counties. Moore County and particularly Pinehurst with a median income of $80,128 qualifies as one of few Tier 3 or high-income communities in North Carolina.

Borrowing a golf term for bad shot, Governor Cooper has played a shank shot. While fighting to keep thousands of businesses closed resulting in tens of thousands being unemployed, he proudly announces giving funds for a project in one of the wealthiest communities in the state to a company that last year reported revenues of $211 million. It’s too late to make a course change but not too late to make a player change.

(21) comments

David Collins

What the heck is a golf research base and what does it do ?

Yeah , this certainly is a mega-sweetheart deal that is absolutely not needed . Guess the N.C. political swamp is deeper than I thought . Hopefully the voters will remember this at the polls .

mpjeep

FORE!

Polls indicate that Dan Forest is way behind Coop. So Sad, but I still hope for a “player change”. Forest 2020!

Gov. Cooper has his own rules, but is a puppet for Pelosi and Schumer.

“You don’t matter.” from the N.C. Bar and Tavern Association about Cooper’s feeling toward them. “Cooper doesn’t care”.

“Over 7,000 alcohol establishments have been opened in NC-restaurants, breweries, wineries, distilleries, casinos, bowling alleys, hotel bars, country clubs-leaving us 1,063 PRIVATE BARS closed. Sitting back watching our businesses be destroyed!,” organizers write.

drewski

Wow, the editor is tough on Cooper. How many times did you say cronyism? Is there a scintilla of evidence that the gov is in league with somone(s) in the pro golf world? A crony that could be named? 35 jobs making 80k a yr that seems like a reasonable investment, if you add in the tourists and golf nuts spending their money in the Piedmont. Now, if you want to talk cronies, and big league scams and payola, plus a voting public that just cant seem to gasp what the heck is happening, return with us now to our own little field of dreams, GLOBAL TRANS-PORK,, err PARK,, yes, PARK. If only we make it bigger, longer runways, more parking, more warehouses,the businesses will come, by the hundreds then the thousands, from the port at mhc to the airstrip at kinston its a brave new world of commerce , the 13 coastal counties that will be taxed and taxed, & taxed again for this project will benefit almost as much as the governors cronies& relatives.

Now that was a masterstoke, this piddling lil deal pales in comparison.

mpjeep

When Governor Cooper began shutting things down, he left golf as somewhat essential. Hmmmmmmmm.. Cooper is a golfer.

mpjeep

3 Apps that Governor Cooper says he can't live without.

Find My iPhone, Fitbit and Golf Clash. Hmmmmmmm golf

Sleepwalker

Finally... NC gets its own golf museum, golf research thingy and golf visitor center...plus we’re netting 35 jobs at Pinehurst. Not sure how we got by all these years without all that.

CARTERETISCORRUPT

Have we all lost our minds? Golf? Really. In the world we live in now, golf is that important? We have a pending civil war. Rifle ranges are far more important. What is the governor thinking? With the financial devastation existing; Golf? Stupidity, now there is a hole in one.

mpjeep

LOL, corrupt...yes we need more rifle ranges!! There is civil unrest and I don't mean BLM. A civil war is not, entirely, out of the question.

Sleepwalker

Ski... the global trans park was an epic failure. Not sure if anything has happened in the last decade or so as far as successful companies moving in. Putting it in ktown of all places probably wasn’t the best choice.

mpjeep

According to Athletic reporter Joe Person, the Carolina Panthers confirmed 45 corporate guests watched the game in the bunker suites along with team staff. At least 50 people are in the south end zone bunker suite.

Meanwhile, Panthers fans are not allowed at the game nor allowed to tailgate on their own.

Franchise Owner. David Tepper — who has donated to Democratic and Republican campaigns and is definitely not a Trump guy — could’ve toed the Roy Cooper line and told the corporate sponsors it’s not the time to show defiance towards the Democratic governor, but at the end of the day, Tepper has a business to run. The solution: corporate sponsors in seats.

Tepper vs. Cooper seems to be heating up. Maybe they can discuss the situation on the Golf Course.

klacy

So the State is investing 18 million for 35 jobs at 80k a year, plus a 36 million investment in Pinehurst by the USGA. The salaries alone equate to a 6-1/2 year return on investment. Agree or disagree with the deal, but that’s a pretty good return. Probably why it made it thru the Republican majority legislature.

mpjeep

Not sure I agree with the math and the jobs/pay are not guaranteed forever. Doesn't seem like a good time to spend money like this.

mpjeep

USNews says: almost TWO-THIRDS of the nearly 164,000 businesses that have closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic will not reopen.

But NC will have a new golf museum and golf research base. Wow!

The swamp in NC is too deep.....republicans and democrats alike spent the money with USGA.

Wanna bet if the USGA or some big sponsors aren't in these politician's pockets? Golfing, golf tents at big events, parties, booze, etc.

klacy

The two state representatives and the one state senator representing Moore County are all Republicans, but the Editor doesn’t bash them like he does the Governor.

mpjeep

Good point, klacy.

David Collins

The blame stops at the feet of the chief executive , be it the president or governor . Seems that the editor spread the blame equally about and remember , Cooper could have vetoed the bill . He did not ! The best we can hope for is that the assembly refuses to fund it . That would shake the bad actors out of the bushes for all to see .

mpjeep

Very true, David, the buck does stop with the Governor, in this case. Not sure where Dan Forest stands on this issue.

I do know this, in my 50 years of being able to vote, I have Never donated money to any political candidate until this year. I have donated money to the Dan Forest campaign.

Some will say that I'm cruising on the Titanic, but I feel so strongly that Cooper is not right for NC, I had to support Forest financially and of course with my vote.

mpjeep

Last September, North Carolina Got a "C" for management of state finances.

Analysis by Truth in Accounting, a non-profit government finance watchdog group, found North Carolina needs $4 billion to get out of the red, or $1,300 from each of its taxpayers.

According to the watchdog's tenth annual Financial State of the States report, North Carolina has $37.6 billion in bills and only $33.7 billion in available assets to pay those bills.

Aren’t public officials elected ,in part, to manage the state's finances? What’s up Gov. LeRoy Coop?

klacy

I disagree with the bill, but a veto by the Governor would have easily been overturned by the General Assembly, as the Bill passed in the House 102-12 and in the Senate 49-0.

mpjeep

The 2020 Census  count determines North Carolina's federal funding and representation for the next 10 years. 

With little time left, NC is severely under counted. With only two weeks left in the process, nearly 40 percent of North Carolina has not responded to the Census. 

Looks like a potential big $$ loss for NC. Doesn't the NC Department of Administration handle the census and report to Governor Coop?

David Collins

A veto by the governor would have at least shown an intent to do the right thing . A little bit of fiscal responsibility and all that muck . He did not .

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