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Art Small on Corporations


Set up research facilities instead of trying to pick winners

We ought to question whether the state should directly fund individual companies no matter how promising they may appear to be. It is difficult for the state not to play this investment development game because it seems to have become the established practice for firms to get states to bid for such projects. All states "dangle dollars" today.

Another approach that might be considered is that taken many years ago by North Carolina when it set up its Research Triangle Institute Park. It made no attempt to pick winners. Rather, it made land and facilities available in close proximity to its three major universities and developed an administrative structure that encouraged cooperation between the universities and the Institute's tenants. Research Triangle Institute changed the economic face of North Carolina. Oakdale Research Park in Coralville has used a similar approach on a much smaller scale. Even that small-scale effort has been quite beneficial.

Source: Op-ed piece in Iowa City Press-Citizen Mar 23, 2004

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