Nashville council members, labor groups push bill for economic development transparency

A group of Nashville council members and labor organizers are pushing for more accountability and transparency as Metro government awards business subsidies.

Their bill before the Metro Council would require companies to file a report before subsidies are awarded, detailing the quantity and quality of anticipated jobs. It would also make companies file quarterly progress reports.

In the world of economic development, such transparency is unusual.

Government agencies across Tennessee award more than $2.5 billion in incentives each year, according to one estimate, yet the reporting requirements vary widely. An investigation by The Tennessean and the state’s other largest media organizations this year found the lack of consistent, accurate records makes it difficult for the public to evaluate whether Tennesseans are getting what they paid for.

“We’re looking to know about those jobs,” Councilman Anthony Davis, the bill’s lead sponsor, said at a news conference Tuesday. “Why are we doing this? More transparency. Shining a light on anything in government is a good thing.” Read more…