Acadiana Business

Economic development documents staying private

by Heather Miller

Negotiations between the state's Economic Development department and the businesses it's trying to lure to the state will likely continue to be exempted from the state's public record statutes following a unanimous vote Monday in the House. A proposal to indefinitely extend the public records exemption for negotiations between the state's Economic Development department and the businesses it's trying to bring to the state passed unanimously Monday in the House.

According to Baton Rouge's WBRZ, the records exemption for Louisiana's economic development office was set to expire at the end of this year. House Bill 208, authored by Republican state Rep. Erich Ponti of Baton Rouge and supported by Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret, extends the exemption indefinitely.

With unanimous approval in the House and backing from Gov. Bobby Jindal, the bill will almost certainly make it to the governor's desk for his signature.

WBRZ reports that Moret supports the measure because "secrecy is needed to compete with other states for projects."

It's this specific exemption that allowed Moret's office to initially keep private what it offered to Kansas-based Hawker Beechcraft in 2010 to move the company's corporate headquarters to Louisiana. A report from Kansas' KWCH reveals that the state offered $500 million in incentives for Hawker, including $75 million for the company to build a new facility, a $1.1 million payment for infrastructure expenses, a $16.8 million grant for research and development and an exemption on property taxes.

Hawker, however, ultimately settled on an offer from the state of Kansas, Sedgwick County and the city of Wichita, all of which agreed to collectively pay the company $45 million over a five-year period, dependent on the company's pledge to maintain a minimum of 3,600 jobs.