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NC House Republican bill raises recruitment incentives cap, extends jet fuel sales tax refund

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RALEIGH, North Carolina — House Republicans on Tuesday filed an economic development package bill, saying they hope it will help Gov. Pat McCrory recruit more companies and jobs to North Carolina.

The filing comes in the wake of another bill that failed late in last year's session containing more incentives the governor had sought.

The long-awaited measure would increase the cap on what's now called the Job Development Investment Grant program, which makes payments to qualifying companies based on a portion of income taxes withheld from the paychecks of new workers.

The governor and leaders of his Commerce Department have warned for months the program was getting close to its $22.5 million cap in awards for the two years ending this June 30. The proposal would raise the cap to $45 million through the end of December and rename JDIG as the "Job Growth Reimbursement Opportunities - People Program."

The measure also allocates $20 million for another manufacturing incentives program, created more than 10 years ago to essentially benefit a drug manufacturing plant in Durham. This Site Infrastructure Development Fund also would be renamed the "Site Acceleration Fund."

A provision also extends for another four years a jet fuel sales tax refund for airlines that has been sought by American Airlines, which handles most of the traffic at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The refund was set to expire at the year.

The credit for computer data storage centers, some of which are already operated by Google and Facebook in western North Carolina, would be adjusted. The measure would extend a sales tax exemption on electricity to additional center-related equipment.

Data centers "have been really a great investment for a lot of the rural areas," said House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland.

The measure, which also addresses the basis by which corporate income taxes are calculated for some projects, won't be heard until next week at the earliest. The House closed up its work for the week Tuesday due to winter storms.

Left out of the legislation is a program authorizing companies to raise capital through small, individual investments and the restoration of a tax credit sought by McCrory for renovating historic buildings. Moore said the "crowdfunding" investment bill will be heard separately, while the historic preservation credit could come as an amendment.

Any bill would have to pass the House and Senate before going to McCrory's desk.

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