Colorado woos California businesses like ‘pitiless gigolo’

From the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp (EDC) comes a Valentine’s lesson for lawmakers: Let your state fall into repeated budget deficit crises and extended political gridlock and you can expect unwanted suitors to circle your taxpaying, job-making businesses like pitiless gigolos.

This weekend, as a first step in a $100,000 marketing campaign, the Metro Denver EDC sent valentines to 500 California executives at expanding companies. The valentines asked the executives to take their business to Colorado. The campaign included a Web site and video, a weekend ad blitz in newspaper and trade magazines across California, and an airplane trailing an 80-foot-long banner over commuters on highways throughout Los Angeles.

PRWeb reports that the Denver campaign is pitching the same lower taxes and quality of life that has attracted Golden State businesses in the past, including San Francisco-based Charles Schwab.

Schwab, which recently announced that it will create 500 new high-paying jobs in Douglas County, is typical of the type of California company with which the Metro Denver EDC often works — advanced technology firms seeking lower operating costs, highly educated and skilled workers, and a great quality of life. Schwab company officials said they chose to expand in Metro Denver “as part of a long-term strategic growth decision and due to the deep talent pool of high-tech workers here.”

A review of the campaign at the San Francisco Chronicle Web site was incredulous.

Alluding to the “many aspects of California’s economy (which) make it difficult,” Colorado is kindly offering “to court California companies looking to expand to other states.”

The Valentine cards are just the start of it. There’s a Web site, COLovesCA.com, with lots of candy-colored hearts, ads with Cupid in ski boots, a Facebook campaign “targeted to California profiles,” and a YouTube video featuring Tom Clark, executive vice president of the Denver development group, sealing the Valentine card envelopes with a kiss (links.sfgate.com/ZGDP).

Isn’t this hitting California while it’s down?

In its review of the campaign, the Wall Street Journal summed up the “troubles” plaguing California as high taxes, a ballooning deficit and political gridlock.

…with the state facing a staggering $42 billion deficit, [L.A. County Economic Development Corp.’s Jack Kyser] said he has little ammunition to beat back crossborder raiding parties. “We know they’re out there,” he said. “California offers rich pickings. It definitely is a concern.”

Right behind Colorado are Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Utah — all planning to make similar runs at luring corporate executives, venture capitalists and manufacturers who might be fed up with California’s political gridlock or anxious about potential tax hikes and deep cuts to schools, parks and other services.

No response yet from Metro Denver EDC on what kind of signals, if any, wooed California executives have sent in response to the come-on. But as Colorado looks to the federal stimulus package to swell its budget and to bailout its struggling schools, this well-publicized Valentine’s campaign is as much a message to Colorado lawmakers as it is to their California counterparts.

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