In 2014, NN Inc. gave our local and state leaders a choice: it could move its headquarters and the 25 jobs located there to another city, or it could stay here and create an additional 175 jobs, bringing the total to 200—if the company got enough tax breaks and incentives to make it worth their while. The strategy won them $3.3 million in giveaways, $900,000 of which came directly from the people of Washington County and Johnson City.
By February 2017, NN Inc. had “created” just 39 jobs—a fact that had to be brought to both the city’s and the public’s attention by a reporter from the Johnson City Press. Our officials, at that point, had the option of charging them 68% of the current year’s property taxes, which would have meant money to go toward teacher’s salaries, school textbooks, fire fighters, and other things we desperately need. Instead, they extended NN Inc.’s deadline by three more years.
NN Inc. thanked them by making a $4 million deal with North Carolina to move their headquarters out of Tennessee altogether.
And still our leaders have confidence that NN Inc. will employ 200 people in good-paying jobs here by the end of 2019. Until then, NN Inc. still pays no property or equipment taxes—while it packs boxes and advertises jobs in Charlotte.
We need our leaders to Do Better.
That happens two ways: One, we put accountability systems in place and make sure they’re used. Two, we elect leaders who honestly care about the well-being of our entire county, not just those with the most money and influence.
We need leaders who ask hard questions, who hold themselves and others to account, and who see the citizens of our county as the whole point of the thing rather than as an inconvenience that needs to be evaded, bypassed, and condescended to.
That’s why I’m running for the Washington County Commission.