Developer Pappas favors broader focus than business tax cuts
I recently interviewed Peter Pappas, an active Charlotte developer who worked for icons Johnny Harris and Smoky Bissell before starting Pappas Properties in 1999. A Democrat who supported Roy Cooper over Charlottean Pat McCrory in the 2016 gubernatorial election, he was on the N.C. Department of Transportation from 1992-98. His comments are edited for brevity and clarity.
Is a lower corporate tax — which Gov. Cooper opposed — important for growth?
The tax rate always is in the discussion but it seems to have been so much of the focus that we haven’t thought of other ways that are critical to attract industry. I don’t think economic development can be a single-focus issue. The reason North Carolina has been attractive is that our state has thought about all aspects of economic development including transportation, broadband networks, education and quality of life issues.
Is our state making the right moves on education reform?
One of the most important aspects of economic development is attracting a young, highly educated workforce, which calls for an emphasis on improving our education programs. I applaud Gov. Cooper’s goal of making North Carolina one of the top 10 states for K-12 education. The teacher pay raises approved by the General Assembly are a step in the right direction. But improving education is a broader topic than just pay raises. One key issue is how do we continue to help universities attract the best professors, for example.
Why are you critical of reducing incentives for film companies?
Like it or not, that industry works off tax credits. We have always been able to capitalize on the beauty of our state, but now we don’t have lost much of that business. Georgia and other states have benefited from our decision.
Gov. McCrory’s administration helped attract a lot of business to the state. Will that continue?
Gov. Cooper will be an active, very aggressive business recruiter. It’s important that we create megasites capable of attracting large employers. Companies are looking for a skilled workforce and he’s right on target by focusing on education. Many young people coming out of college are making a decision on where they want to live before they even land their first job. We need to continue our good track record of attracting younger people.