Can Google Change One Small Town's Fortunes?

<p>State and local officials are offering $100 million dollars in tax breaks to the Internet company should it locate a new facility in Lenoir, North Carolina. Yet some wonder if the generosity will pay off for the town.</p>
January 17, 2007, 11am PST | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"Google, which has not committed to a site in Lenoir, could bring $600 million in new investment, equal to half the city's tax base and more than 10 percent of Caldwell County's.

But neither city nor county would reap riches in revenue. To win the facility, Lenoir and Caldwell County officials have agreed to waive 100 percent of Google's business property taxes and 80 percent of real-estate taxes for three decades."

"Despite the benevolence, few, if any, of the 3,400 unemployed people in Caldwell County are likely to get the Google jobs. The positions probably will require specialized education and skills lacking in this blue-collar community.

'How can it possibly be worth it?' asked Jim Henson, a Lenoir native and single parent, who makes his living dismantling pieces of old furniture factories.

Economic officials say the largess is needed because Google is considering rival sites in South Carolina and elsewhere. And Google is needed, they contend, as the foundation for a new economy that Lenoir must put in place to move forward."

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Published on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 in The News & Observer
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