Feeding Clayton’s Healthcare Giant
On Monday Clayton City Hall found itself filled to the brim with citizens hoping to attend a public hearing regarding the $147 million potential subsidy for Centene. Upon arrival, I—along with dozens of others—was turned away due to a lack of space. It seems the massive development is raising eyebrows, and rightfully so.
For those unfamiliar with the proposed project, Centene is seeking public subsidies to assist in the expansion of its headquarters in downtown Clayton. The total expansion’s costs are estimated at $771.8, million and Clayco (the project’s developer) expects roughly a fifth of that to be covered through public subsidies.
Centene’s proposal says it will bring 2,000 jobs to the area and that part of the new expansion will be leased out to third parties, as is occurring at the current headquarters. It’s somewhat unsettling that the healthcare giant is leasing out roughly half of its current headquarters’ office space while at the same time claiming that expansions are necessary to house 2,000 new employees, and it seems that the company has no intention of changing this pattern.
With Centene planning to lease office space, we should ask if subsidization is proper for this kind of business venture. Why should tax dollars pay for leasing space that will simply bring more revenue back to Centene? It’s a bad bargain, both for citizens and for competing lessors who would lack the competitive advantage of subsidization.
If Centene wishes to move further into the leasing game, they certainly have the right to do so—on their own dime. But it’s hard to see why taxpayers should foot the bill for a profitable investment in such a prime place for development.