Teppco Closure… Government Incompetence or Corruption?

On GoLocalProv, Russ Moore is reporting that the Teppco propane terminal in Providence is taking its 36 jobs and skipping town:

Nearly one year after being hit with a $1 million tax hike by the City of Providence, Teppco, a propane terminal located at ProvPort, has officially closed its doors. The company will cease doing business in Providence this week — a move that will cause its 36 employees to look for new jobs.

According to sources with the company and at the Port, the City’s tax increase was the major cause of the closure of the facility that has been operating since 1971. Moreover, the failure by city officials to respond and work to resolve the issues caused Teppco to lose a potential buyer that would have allowed the facility to continue to operate and retain jobs.

One doubts the fallout from this controversy is so narrowly limited.  Any business considering opening or expanding in Providence or all of Rhode Island must take into account the reality that the municipal and state governments are so poorly run and are not above changing the rules of the economic game when it suits their personal purposes.  After all, the business environment isn’t just the set of taxes and regulations that the government imposes within its jurisdiction — which are utterly obnoxious in their own right — but also tendency of officials to add more and then cut special deals only with those who play ball.

As with the Citizens Financial Group development, the message is clear that businesses should look anywhere else than Rhode Island first, unless they’re big and influential enough to have the rules bent in their favor.

But aside from all that, I’m not sure why everybody assumes that this egregious example of tax grabbing and non-communication is some kind of error.  Here’s a bit of waterfront property that the owners no longer want and that can’t be sold for its current use.  Keep an eye out for new proposals to utilize the abandoned land for something that powerful people inside Providence government want more.   After all, what are jobs, taxes, and local energy/fuel sources in comparison with things that insiders want?

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