Monday, March 11, 2013

Still Rotten

Last June, Reno, Washoe County, and Nevada state officials gushed with pride in announcing Apple's new data storage facility and business center in Washoe County. Just weeks after The New York Times exposed Apple's shell company in Reno as part of its strategy to evade California and federal taxes, officials here essentially rewarded Apple's atrocious behavior by bestowing $89 million worth of corporate welfare tax breaks in exchange for the data storage facility and Downtown Reno business center.

But wait, Apple did announce the data storage facility and Downtown Reno business center. Sure, it sucks that California and the feds lost out on tax revenue. But hey, at least we get something for it! Well, maybe not.

In January, we had a progress report on Apple's planned expansion into Nevada. Basically, there's been no expansion. There was still no ground broken on either the data storage facility or the Downtown Reno business center. Yet despite the clear lack of progress, Apple continued to cash in on the tax breaks and the relief of criticism deflected from Braeburn Capital, the Reno shell company set up by Apple to avoid paying taxes elsewhere.

So what's up with Apple now? Oh, there's just continuing lack of construction on both promised Northern Nevada projects. In fact, the building permit for Apple's business center has been sitting at Reno City Hall since October. Instead, another Apple project recently moved. Guess which one.

[Braeburn Capital is] still in Reno, on the corner of McCarran andLakeside, with a (small) sign out front, a locator sign in the lobby and a sign on the door. The firm moved about a year and half ago from its location at 72 0 Sandhill Road in south Reno.

Apleasant but guarded man answereda call at the firm's door this morning.He confirmedthat the third-floor office in the building at 6900 McCarran Boulevard is indeed the location of Apple Braeburn.He wouldn't identify himself, and referred all questions to Apple's Cupertino offices.

Meanwhile,the building permit for Apple’s proposed downtown business center has been sitting at RenoCity Hall since October.

That permit will expire next month,but the contractor behind the project, Reno-based UnitedConstruction,could ask the city for an extension.

Those extensions are usually approved by the city, said Fred Turnier, the community development director for Reno.

Oh, yes. That's right. There's been no action on either of the promised Apple projects for Northern Nevada. Governor Brian Sandoval and his budding reelection campaign PR team heralded these projects as breakthroughs in economic development. Instead, Apple is getting giggles at our expense.

Let's just admit it already. The gig's up. Using corporate welfare for "economic development" is not working. Instead, it's failing Nevada.

Last Tuesday, the usual crew of "business leaders" begged the Nevada Legislature to kill The Education Initiative. They blathered on about how "bad for business" a mere 2% margin tax on revenue over $1,000,000 is. Who needs better funded schools when the state has such a "great business climate"?

Yet how have we benefited from our supposedly "great business climate"? How has our commitment to low/no taxes helped economic development? Where are the jobs?

Apple is just one example of Nevada's failed policy of "promoting economic development" by way of corporate welfare. We promise no taxes, and we receive no benefit. There's something rotten in Reno... And in Carson City. And the only way Nevada can actually achieve true economic development is by getting rid of the rot.

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