This morning, I read a news story about a major public company announcing plans for a nearly $2.5B investment in a new chemical plant in the Houston area. The story basically went that the company had internally given the green light to move forward with the project in the Houston area, that they were deciding between two different locations, and that the decision would be influenced by incentives from the state of Texas among other things. This immediately set off alarm bells for me.
Firstly, in order to get incentives from the state of Texas, you have to have competition from another state. You must prove that there is a need for Texas to incentivize the deal. Furthermore, you have to have narrowed down your site search to one location in Texas. Texas doesn’t want to get in the business of leveraging one of their local communities over another. In fact, before granting incentives, the state of Texas has a team that will scour the internet to make sure that no announcement has been made. This includes social media, company websites as well as the traditional media outlets. While I don’t know the specifics of this particular deal and the reporter might have not been aware of competition from another state or where things stood in the incentives process, I would hate to see the company miss out on millions in incentives simply for making an exciting announcement or even confirming it with the press. So as tempting as it might be to announce a new project, it is always best to wait until the incentives deal is agreed to before doing so.