Archive for the ‘California Taxes’ category

The Big Mystery: Will a Coastal or Interior City Win Amazon’s HQ2 Project

October 19, 2017

Today is deadline day at Amazon for cities and states to file their proposals to become home to the company’s second headquarters, commonly referred to as HQ2.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked what decision Amazon will make. Well, Amazon isn’t my client so how would I know? Even if they were, under non-disclosure rules I wouldn’t breath a word about the company’s project.

A little speculation can’t hurt, so here goes …

I think Amazon will seriously consider metropolitan areas located in the nation’s interior. While the smaller ones won’t make it simply because the workforce isn’t there, others have characteristics that are superior – often far superior – to coastal areas.

Many people think the winning bid will be the one that offers the highest value in economic incentives, but that isn’t always the case. It’s true that incentives can be a significant factor, but not necessarily a decisive one.

At times, a community offering the most attractive incentives can lose if it fails to meet certain parameters. For example, putting a warehouse located a half-mile from an Interstate highway will beat out a community that is situated 25 miles from an Interstate.

Countless examples like that exist.

So incentives are only part of the puzzle. Selecting the optimum location is a balancing act that weighs many important factors, such as the extent of workers in the area with appropriate talents, availability of shovel-ready land on which to build, tax rates and how they are applied, and laws that regulate labor factors such as overtime — the list is a lot longer than this.

Also important are quality-of-life factors for employees, such as the cost of living (especially housing costs), quality of the local school system, traffic congestion during peak commuting times, recreational and cultural opportunities, taxes and crime rates.

I predict that one state Amazon won’t put its HQ2 is California because of the state’s harsh business and legal environment.

Just one example: Employers can be fined or sued for a mistake on a paycheck stub (not the check, just the stub). Challenges facing workers include super-expensive housing, the highest taxes in the nation and long commuting times caused in part by highway improvements that have long been neglected.

Two days ago the Tax Foundation released its 2018 State Business Tax Climate, which showed California ranking as the 48th worst state beating out only New York and New Jersey.

Next year the tax picture may worsen as California legislators again try to revise Proposition 13 to put business and residential properties into two groups – and then place still-higher taxes on all types of office, industrial and commercial property.

Legislators are motivated by plans to once again increase state spending despite needing reserve funds to pay down state and local debt that now exceeds $1.3 trillion.

So it’s little wonder that the California Business and Industrial Alliance in Sunland has placed a full-page ad in the Seattle area to warn Amazon away from locating its HQ2 in the state. According to the San Fernando Valley Business Journal, “The headline warns the Seattle online retailer that while the weather is nice in California, the business climate is not.”

All of that represents the formula for California being scratched off the list, especially because of this Amazon specification: “A stable and business-friendly environment and tax structure will be high-priority considerations for the Project.”

Since Illinois, New York and New Jersey mimic California’s awful public policies, I won’t be surprised if Chicago, New York City and Newark also disappear as candidates.

Finally, I wish I could be in Amazon’s office as each proposal was unveiled. I know this is serious business, but I also think it would be fascinating, exciting and fun, too.

Note: Three excellent stories appeared today regarding the project:

CNBC’s – Bids for Amazon’s second headquarters are due Thursday — here are the cities in the running – This story states: “Although we don’t know exactly which cities have officially submitted their proposals so far, there are more than 100 cities and counties that have expressed interest in placing a bid, according to previous reports. There could be more, as some cities are keeping their bids secret, at least through Thursday, for competitive reasons.”

Wall Street Journal – As Cities Woo Amazon to Build Second Headquarters, Incentives Are Key

PoliticoThis Is What Really Happens When Amazon Comes to Your Town.

One focus of this blog has been to address California’s perennially difficult business environment. Joseph Vranich is known as The Business Relocation Coach while the formal name of his business is Spectrum Location Solutions. Joe helps companies find great locations in which to grow.

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Businesses Joined by Non-Profits in Leaving California for Friendlier States

September 21, 2017

Friends in economic development agencies and in the site selection consulting world have asked why I haven’t posted anything in quite awhile. My answer is simple: I’ve been exceptionally busy. It certainly isn’t because there aren’t things to write about.

Another question I’m usually asked is whether businesses are still leaving California.

They are, especially with the state legislature again failing to provide tax or regulatory relief to its home-state companies. Overall, taxes, fees and regulations have gotten worse. Such a difficult business environment, combined with grim treatment by local governments, have caused operating costs to grow faster in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles than in virtually every other metropolitan area in the nation.

So large corporations and small business entities – joined by non-profit organizations – continue to look for ways to partially or fully exit the state. Today alone brought two examples, which by coincidence both involve Nevada.

The first is a loss for Los Angeles with Virtual Guard, Inc. leaving the city’s Sherman Oaks section. The company plans to relocate its headquarters and interactive command and control center to Clark County (Las Vegas area), citing an “unfriendly economic environment” in California. The move is likely to occur later this year.

There, Virtual Guard  is expected to hire 80 new employees within its first two years of operations. The video monitoring company is also a developer and integrator of technology in the perimeter security sector and its solutions are being used throughout the United States and Canada.

California, which a long time ago was a haven for aerospace companies, will lose another one next year.

ERG Aerospace Corp. plans to relocate its Oakland operations to McCarran, Nevada and make the Silver State its headquarters. The company manufactures materials and components for the aerospace, national defense, semiconductor manufacturing, biotech and other high technology industries. The target date for the move is the second quarter 2018, with operations to commence in the same quarter.

Several months ago, a non-profit organization said it would relocate out of state, too. Horizon University, a private, Christian school that started classes in 1993 in San Diego is heading to Indianapolis.

Horizon’s President Bill Goodrich calls the decision “a no-brainer.” He said Indiana offers a “climate” that was slipping away in California, and by that he wasn’t referring to San Diego’s sunny days. Goodrich said that the university helps people “grow academically” while integrating the “strong biblical teachings and we find in Indiana, there’s an openness to that.”

The move will allow the, accredited university to grow on a 97-acre spread – in a state with less “red tape” – and attract more students.

Thanks to high costs, a sizeable non-profit move is upcoming: Toastmasters International will shift its headquarters from its birthplace in Orange County to Colorado.

With about 180 employees, Toastmasters CEO Daniel Rex said costs in California were a concern. “When you look at the availability of workers, when you look at the cost of commerce and real estate, this is something that makes sense.” The organization is spending $19.5 million to buy a building in Englewood, south of Denver. Toastmasters is a legendary California institution, founded in 1924 in Santa Ana. Since 1990 it’s been based in Rancho Santa Margarita.

Business people who endure the decline in California’s business climate and pervasive cost increases can take some comfort knowing that some non-profit brethren are members of the same club.

I’ll write more about how California treats its commercial enterprises. But first let’s see how many business-helpful bills and business-damaging bills Gov. Jerry Brown will sign into law.

One focus of this blog has been to address California’s perennially difficult business environment. Joseph Vranich is known as The Business Relocation Coach while the formal name of his business is Spectrum Location Solutions. Joe helps companies find great locations in which to grow.

Los Angeles KTTV Editorial – ‘California Losing Companies & Jobs’

October 7, 2016

Now here is an editorial that gets to the point about California’s business departures, saying, “Governor Brown: Your attitude needs to change…. Creating a climate that is business friendly should come from the top and be a priority.”

ch-11-point-of-view-calif-losing-jobsThe piece runs a lengthy news crawl at the bottom of the screen that shows the names of some of the companies that have relocated in full or in part out of California.

The commentary cites my study issued in January, entitled, “California Business Departures: An Eight-Year Review 2008-2015.”

The views expressed by the station’s Vice President and General Manager, Bob Cook, are in concert with the assessments held by business leaders throughout the state.

See KTTV’s “Point of View: California Losing Jobs.”

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One focus of this blog has been to address California’s difficult business environment.

Joseph Vranich is known as The Business Relocation Coach while the formal name of his business is Spectrum Location Solutions. Joe helps companies find great locations in which to grow. Also, Joe has been a Keynote Speaker for more than 20 years – see A Speaker Throughout the U.S. and in Europe and Asia.

Another Firm Says ‘Bye’ to California: Moves Silicon Valley Headquarters to Indiana

June 16, 2016

Determine, Inc., a software company, will relocate its headquarters to Carmel, Indiana, about 30 miles north of Indianapolis. The company’s announcement said the new headquarters will provide a home base as of this month (June) for its worldwide business, which includes offices in California, Georgia, France and the United Kingdom.

Indiana-StateSeal.svg“It was a big decision to leave Silicon Valley,” said Patrick Stakenas, Determine’s president and CEO. “Locating in Carmel offers us an extremely solid business environment and a quality of life that will allow us to attract and retain talented employees. Due to these key points, the bulk of our future U.S.-based growth will be in Indiana.”

Note the reference to attract and retain employees. While I’m not privy to the company’s retention rate, it’s well known that employees in Silicon Valley and San Francisco are job hoppers extraordinaire.

Gov. Mike Pence said, “In Indiana, we maintain a balanced budget and have cut costs and taxes, creating a fiscally predictable environment that allows entrepreneurs and job creators to invest in what matters most – their business and their employees.”

The company’s enterprise customers include AOL, Cushman & Wakefield, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Nordstrom, and Sony Music Entertainment.

The Indianapolis Star reported that Determine Inc. has been based in the heart of Silicon Valley in San Mateo.

Inside Indiana Business said Determine is hiring for customer support, professional services, software development and financial positions. The company was founded in 1996 under the name Selectica.

A study, California Business Departures: An Eight-Year Review 2008-2015, published this January, included a sampling of other California-to-Indianapolis moves.

For example, Memory Ventures, in looking for a location for the growing company’s new headquarters, avoided Los Angeles. “The business environment in California is very challenging,” CEO Anderson Schoenrock said, citing the tax structure, government regulation and the high cost of living. “Over time, that grinds on you and your employees.” The company was founded in 2007 with its first brand, ScanDigital, and has been featured on the Inc. 500 and Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 lists.

Last year, Emarsys, a Vienna, Austria-based digital technology company, located its North American headquarters in Indianapolis. Emarsys has a handful of employees in California, and decided to settle in Indianapolis after considering San Francisco.

Finally, Appirio Inc., another software company, moved its headquarters from San Francisco to Indianapolis.

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One focus of this blog has been to address California’s difficult business environment.

Joseph Vranich is known as The Business Relocation Coach while the formal name of his business is Spectrum Location Solutions. Joe helps companies find great locations in which to grow. Also, Joe has been a Keynote Speaker for more than 20 years – see A Speaker Throughout the U.S. and in Europe and Asia.

California Loss: Swiss Company Puts U.S. HQ in Phoenix, not San Francisco

June 9, 2016

The Kudelski Group, a Switzerland-based global technology company, has an office in San Francisco, but selected the Phoenix area for the location of its  350-job U.S. headquarters.

Arizona-StateSeal.svgAccording to the Phoenix Business Journal, “We wanted to be in a business-friendly environment,” said Richard Fennessy, CEO of Kudelski Security, the Group’s cybersecurity division. “The governor made it clear we’d find that (in Arizona).”

“We’re bringing our global finance, human resources, administration, legal and information technology divisions to Phoenix,” Fennessy said, which includes moving employees from Switzerland.

See the complete story at “EXCLUSIVE — Kudelski Security CEO: Phoenix made ‘best business case’ for HQ.”

One focus of this blog has been to address California’s perennially difficult business environment. Joseph Vranich is known as The Business Relocation Coach while the formal name of his business is Spectrum Location Solutions. Joe helps companies find great locations in which to grow. Also, Joe has been a Keynote Speaker for more than 20 years – see A Speaker Throughout the U.S. and in Europe and Asia.

 

Orange County Register editorial: California stoking job growth – in the moving industry

May 29, 2016

Californiaocr R has earned quite a reputation for being openly hostile to business, as confirmed by numerous studies and surveys. Its plethora of taxes and regulations are driving away legions of entrepreneurs and workers, but they are doing wonders for one segment of the economy: the moving industry. It is almost as though that industry is secretly lobbying the state Legislature for its anti-business policies.

Joe Vranich, as president of Spectrum Location Solutions, an Irvine business relocation consulting firm, knows all about what drives businesses’ decisions to give up and leave for greener pastures.

See more of the editorial, which contains quotes from company CEO’s, here.

One focus of this blog has been to address California’s perennially difficult business environment. Joseph Vranich is known as The Business Relocation Coach while the formal name of his business is Spectrum Location Solutions. Joe helps companies find great locations in which to grow. Also, Joe has been a Keynote Speaker for more than 20 years – see A Speaker Throughout the U.S. and in Europe and Asia.

California Legislature Considers More Business-Bashing, Job-Killing Bills

March 31, 2016

As each year passes the California legislature introduces and often enacts increasingly severe measures that damage the state’s business climate.

We need only look at the newest summary of legislation that the California Chamber of Commerce issued yesterday. Seeing some of the shocking language in the bills – note especially the italicized parts – makes me wonder what planet Sacramento legislators came from, or perhaps I should say what solar system California voters came from.

Calif State Assembly logoAfter reading the list, will anyone wonder why some businesses can’t wait to leave California for a friendlier state?

A shortened and edited version of the announcement follows:

The California Chamber of Commerce released a preliminary list of job killer bills to call attention to the negative impact that proposed measures would have on the state’s job climate and economic recovery if they were to become law. The list is preliminary because CalChamber expects to add more bills to the list as legislation is amended.

“These job killer bills represent the worst of the worst legislative proposals currently under consideration by lawmakers,” said Allan Zaremberg, President and CEO of the Chamber.

“Whether they create barriers to providing affordable housing for workers, or increase costs for companies trying to grow or stay in business, these job killer bills should not become law,” he said.

The preliminary list of 2016 bills along with 2015 carry-over bills follows:Calif Senate Logo

Increased Labor Costs

SB 1166 (Hanna-Beth Jackson; D-Santa Barbara) Imposes New Maternity and Paternity Leave Mandate — Unduly burdens and increases costs of small employers, with as few as 5 employees, as well as large employers by requiring 12 weeks of protected employee leave for maternity or paternity leave, in addition to up to four months of existing pregnancy disability leave, for employees who have worked for the employer one day, as well as exposing employers with 50 or more employees to lawsuits for failing to provide 24 weeks of protected leave in a 12-month period.

SB 878 (Connie Leyva; D-Chino) Mandated Scheduling Requirement — Eliminates worker flexibility and exposes employers to costly penalties, litigation, and government enforcement, by mandating employers in the retail, grocery, or restaurant workplace, including employers who have hybrid operations that include a retail or restaurant section, to provide a 21-day work schedule and then face penalties and litigation if the employer changes the schedule with less than 7 days notice, even when the change is at the request of the employee.

SB 3 (Mark Leno; D-San Francisco) Automatic Minimum Wage Increase — Unfairly imposes a potential 50% increase in the minimum wage by 2022 (actually an 87% increase over an 8-year period when combined with the last increase just implemented in January 2016), and automatically adjusts minimum wage beyond 2018 according to national inflation, with no “offramps” to suspend the indexing if employers are struggling with other economic factors or costs.

Tax Increases

SCA 5 (Loni Hancock; D-Berkeley) Split Property Roll — Undermines the protections of Proposition 13 by unfairly targeting commercial property owners and increasing their property taxes by assessing their property based upon current fair market value instead of acquired value. Such costs will ultimately be passed on to consumers and tenants through higher prices and will result in job loss as businesses struggle to absorb such a dramatic tax increase.

ACA 8 (Richard Bloom; D-Santa Monica) Lowers Vote Requirement for Tax Increases — Adds complexity and uncertainty to the current tax structure and adds pressure to increase taxes on commercial, industrial and residential property owners by giving local governments new authority to enact special taxes for storm and wastewater infrastructure, including parcel taxes, by lowering the vote threshold from two-thirds to fifty-five percent.

Burdensome Environmental Regulations

SB 32 (Fran Pavley; D-Agoura Hills) Slows Economic Growth — Strengthens the already excessive authority of the California Air Resources Board and Increases costs for California businesses, makes them less competitive, and discourages economic growth by adopting further greenhouse gas emission reductions for 2030 without regard to the impact on individuals, jobs and the economy.

SB 654 (Kevin de León; D-Los Angeles) Creates Unworkable Hazardous Waste Permitting Process — Discourages investment in upgrading and improving hazardous waste facilities by shutting down hazardous waste facilities if the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) fails to take final action on the permit renewal application within a specified timeframe, even if the permit applicant acted diligently and in good faith throughout the permit application process.

California Oil Production Barriers

AB 2729 (Das Williams; D-Santa Barbara / Thurmond; D-Richmond) Gas Price Increase — Jeopardizes the production of California based fuel supply and increases costs to the industry by revising the definition of an idle well and requiring permanent closure of 25% of California’s long-term idle wells each year.

AB 1759 (Rob Bonta; D-Alameda) Gas Price Increase — Jeopardizes the production of California based fuel by banning the use of hydrogen fluoride and hydrofluoric acid at facilities that use more than 250 gallons and are located within two miles of a residence, notwithstanding the fact that there are significant safety regulations in place at the local, state and federal levels.

AB 1882 (Das Williams; D-Santa Barbara) Gas Price Increase — Jeopardizes the production of California based fuel by substantially complicating the existing permitting process for the Underground Injection Control program by imposing duplicative requirements and requiring the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources to cede aspects of its permitting authority to the regional water quality control board.

Affordable Housing Barriers

AB 2162 (Kasen Chu; D-San Jose) Erodes Housing Affordability — Increases the cost of and delays housing and other development projects by eliminating existing mitigation options for impacts to oak woodlands under the California Environmental Quality Act and instead imposes an entirely new and separate permitting process for the removal of even one valley oak tree.

AB 2502 (Kevin Mullin; D-South San Francisco / David Chiu; D-San Francisco) Erodes Housing Affordability — Increases the cost and reduces the supply of housing by authorizing local governments as condition of development to impose a costly and inflexible price-controlled inclusionary housing requirement and, in doing so, legislatively repeals an established court decision upholding developers’ ability to set initial rental rates for new dwelling units.

SB 1150 (Mark Leno; D-San Francisco) Erodes Housing Availability — Increases risk and the cost of residential loans by allowing a party not on the mortgage loan to interfere with appropriate foreclosures and creates a private right of action for violations of overly complex and burdensome requirements.

SB 1318 (Lois Wolk; D-Davis) Erodes Housing Affordability— Inappropriately leverages necessary affordable housing in order to solve infrastructure issues with the consequence that the housing won’t be built by imposing requirements on water or waste water districts to serve certain communities first.

Meritless Litigation

SB 899 (Ben Hueso; D-Logan Heights) Increased Meritless Litigation Costs — Drives up consumer costs and increases frivolous litigation similar to the disability access lawsuits in California, by prohibiting a retailer or grocery store from discriminating against a person on the basis of gender with the price of goods and subjecting them to a minimum $4,000 of damages for each violation.

Arbitration Discrimination

AB 2667 (Tony Thurmond; D-Richmond) and AB 2879 (Mark Stone; D-Scotts Valley) Arbitration Agreements Discrimination — Unfairly discriminates against arbitration agreements and therefore is likely preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act, which will lead to confusion and litigation. Such will be the result by prohibiting arbitration of Unruh Civil Rights violations made as a condition of a contract for goods or services (in AB 2667) and by prohibiting an employer from requiring an individual who is a member of the military to sign a mandatory arbitration agreement as a condition of employment (in AB 2879).

To see future changes to the CalChamber list, go to www.cajobkillers.com

If you are a California resident and want to see your legislator’s record on business-related votes in 2015, see here.

 

One focus of this blog has been to address California’s perennially difficult business environment. Joseph Vranich is known as The Business Relocation Coach while the formal name of his business is Spectrum Location Solutions. Joe helps companies find great locations in which to grow. Also, Joe has been a Keynote Speaker for more than 20 years – see A Speaker Throughout the U.S. and in Europe and Asia.