Carrier Deal Opens Door to New Focus for U.S. Economic Development Strategy, But Country Can’t Just Lurch From Deal to Deal, Says Leading U.S. Tech-Policy Think Tank

December 1, 2016

WASHINGTON—The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the leading U.S. science and tech policy think tank, today released the following statement from its president, Robert D. Atkinson, regarding the deal to keep 1,000 Carrier jobs in Indiana:

Contrary to early reactions from the left and the right, the Carrier deal opens the door to a new approach to U.S. economic growth policy that is sorely needed. It sets the precedent that growing, attracting, and retaining globally traded, innovation-based industries that are both high-value and pay high wages is central to U.S. economic growth. But to achieve that, we must go beyond individual deals and focus on creating an overall economic ecosystem that incentivizes these companies to call the United States home.

While many on the right decry this type of focus as industrial policy or crony capitalism, and many on left call it a corporate handout, both sides are missing the fact that globally traded, high-value companies that pay high wages are critical for the United States to continue to grow the economy, create more jobs, and increase standards of living. Conventional economic policy in Washington that treats all firms and industries alike has failed in the past and will continue to fail in the future. It’s time for Washington to take a new approach and focus on growing, attracting, and retaining exactly these kinds of companies.

Just lurching from deal to deal will not be enough. From federal investment in R&D, to workforce training programs, to how we reform the corporate tax system, America needs to put a premium on helping innovative companies like Carrier, because they pay high wages and grow the U.S. economy by selling to customers around the world.

We hope this agreement is a signal of what’s to come from the Trump administration in terms of its focus, but it is important to understand we need a broad approach to economic development for the country to truly succeed. Operating deal by deal can work well for a company such as the one President-elect Trump has managed until now, but it won’t work for an economy the size of America’s.