It's not easy to evaluate incentive programs, but Montgomery County, MD, has issued an impressive and impressively honest review of its economic development incentives programs. Among its findings:
- 40% of grant and loan program recipients fully
met performance criteria
- Recipients created or retained 87% of the required total projected jobs. Companies that met the performance criteria exceed their projected job totals, but the remaining companies fell short of their projections by more than 7,000 jobs
- A sizable proportion of recipients, ranging from 32% to 51% (depending on the grant program), either moved out of the county or went out of business after the monitoring period ended
- 23,246 jobs were created or preserved by firms receiving some sort of assistance from the county
While there are no benchmarks for incentive programs, these are actually pretty strong numbers, especially considering that higher risk small business and technology programs were included in the evaluation.
Most impressive, though, is the willingness to take the time to carefully evaluate and share findings about the effectiveness of the county’s incentive programs.