Subsidy Tracker Gets Bigger and Better

July 9, 2015

My colleagues and I have just completed one of our periodic updates to Subsidy Tracker as part of our mission to make the database as complete and current as possible.

Kasia Tarczynska and Elizabeth Bird, aided by interns Annie Pease and Alex Wald, collected more than 12,000 updated entries from 32 states and the District of Columbia. Drawn from dozens of official websites as well as open records requests, these updates cover more than 100 state and local programs.

We also added 35 new Megadeal entries. These are special listings for large deals that may not be adequately reflected in the available official data on which we mainly rely. We’ve got an entry, for example, on the $212 million package recently awarded to Volvo in South Carolina. Along with recent deals we added entries on older ones in amounts down to $50 million, our new Megadeal threshold. An updated spreadsheet of old and new entries can be found on our Megadeals page.

The next step was to match as many of the new entries as possible to our universe of large parent companies, which now number 1,858. As usual, we used our proprietary system combining automatic suggested matches generated by a system created by our database consultant Rich Puchalsky with manual verification and adjustment by yours truly. The number of verified matches has now surpassed 75,000; these account for 76 percent of the total value of the subsidies in Tracker.

I also had the task of updating the parent-subsidiary linkages to reflect the latest mergers and acquisitions, of which there have been many. Among the recently completed combinations now reflected in Tracker are tobacco giant Reynolds American’s purchase of its rival Lorillard and Verizon’s acquisition of AOL. The parent line-up also reflects changes such as Gannett’s split into a publishing company keeping the same name and a broadcast and digital firm called Tegna.

We’ve also improved our data inventory list, which shows our information sources. To promote clarity, we’ve put  the state and local programs onto separate pages, and we’ve added a column to the tables indicating whether a program is still active.

We are committed to maintaining Tracker’s status as the authoritative source on subsidy awards.