LOS ANGELES _ For decades, California could just lie back and
rely on its seemingly irresistible lures to companies and people.
If one plant shut or left, two more seemed to blossom amid the
palms, and the state's economy consistently outpaced the nation's.
But suddenly California's political and business leadership has
been jolted into action. They have belatedly started to mount a
rear-guard action intended not to attract new industry but to
prevent businesses from running away.
Among states encouraging businesses to flee was Oklahoma, the
first state to open a California trade office, according to Roy
Williams, assistant director of the Oklahoma Department of
Commerce. Established about a year ago, the office is located near
Williams said a California Department of Commerce study, which
polled 632 company executives, showed 57 percent were seriously
considering moving to another state or restricting their expansion
Oklahoma's comparatively low power costs and low water and
sewerage rates are attractive to those considering a move,
according to Mike Skaggs, commerce director of corporate site
Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Oklahoma, Oregon, Idaho and
other states have found easy pickings in California, as has nearby
And this week, the commissioner of economic development of the
Virgin Islands, Eric Dawson, was planning to make a pitch to
business leaders in Los Angeles.
The sales pitches are not restricted to small groups. Commuters
on Southern California's freeways often hear this ad on the radio:
"If your business is based in California, then you already know it
means putting up with traffic congestion, smog, over-regulation,
high costs and an irritable work force that result in lost revenues
. . . Now is the right time to cash out of California and go to
Pueblo has attracted five plants from California. "All these
companies are leaving, and nobody is listening in the Legislature _
I just smile," said Harold E. Mabie, who runs the one-man
California office of the Pueblo Economic Development Corp. "I've
been working on a lot of companies the last six months."
Now California has begun to strike back.
The California Chamber of Commerce recently organized a Task
Force on Saving California Jobs, which has urged the state to
lighten what it considers the excessive burdens of taxation,
environmental regulation and workers compensation insurance. …