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A Little Wooing Can Go a Long Way

California and its cities and counties appear to have reversed the woeful tendency merely to wave goodby when businesses pull up stakes and head out of state. Sometimes, it seems all a business wants is to know that someone is aware of its existence and values it.

Last week the sunglasses maker Oakley Inc. said it had been ready to move from Irvine to Henderson, Nev., before Gov. Pete Wilson and Orange County Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez encouraged it to stay in Orange County. Oakley’s chief executive officer, Mike Parnell, said these contacts, initiated by the offices of the two officials, made the difference. Subsequently, the company found a 40-acre site in Tustin at which it could consolidate its scattered manufacturing facilities. The Tustin facility will allow Oakley to keep its several hundred employees in Orange County.

It was a welcome decision for a state still struggling to emerge from recession and a county battered by bankruptcy. It also was the latest heartening victory over competing locales. The Danish toy maker Lego picked a San Diego site, rather than a Virginia location, for a $100-million theme park. Taco Bell decided to keep its headquarters in Irvine rather than move to Texas. In both cases, groups of public and private officials known as “red teams” played a role.

California obviously has many attractions for companies, but government must make it known that the state appreciates them.

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In some cases, a lot of wooing can by accomplished by simply writing a little love letter.


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