Utah, Virginia governors visit California to woo businesses

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell were in California this week on a whirlwind tour to woo Golden State businesses to expand or relocate to their states.

At the Westin South Coast Plaza hotel in Costa Mesa on Thursday, both state leaders took a breather to talk to The Times about why they were chatting with companies in Costa Mesa, Palo Alto and San Francisco.

The governors, who cooked up this joint tour after discussing their mutual interest in job creation, took a much more amicable tack than Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Perry’s swing through California in February was punctuated by radio ads that declared, “Building a business in California is next to impossible.”


Herbert and McDonnell said their goal was to attract companies that wanted to expand, not persuade businesses to pick up stakes and move out of California altogether.

Herbert, who had spent part of the day meeting with a Southland medical device company that already has an outpost in Utah, said any similar moves that improved companies’ health would benefit California’s economy and its people.

“It’s a win-win proposition,” he said. “This is not a zero-sum game.”

McDonnell said he was interested in entertainment companies in Hollywood. Tax credits offered by Virginia to nurture its budding film industry have already attracted industry titans such as Steven Spielberg, who filmed his Oscar-winning movie “Lincoln” in the state, he said.

Both governors tout their states’ relatively low taxes, business-friendly regulations and harder stances on organized labor. They proudly pointed out that Forbes magazine ranked Utah and Virginia as No. 1 and 2, respectively, in its 2012 rankings for the best states for businesses.

Some companies have already taken the bait. Aerospace giant Northrop Grumman moved its headquarters from L.A. to the Washington, D.C., area in Virginia by 2011. San Jose software maker Adobe Systems is spending about $100 million to build a campus in Utah.


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