Washington State among worst business climates

Statesman Journal
The Bellingham Herald


Washington and Oregon usually get high marks as places to live and work. But a recent survey of 287 corporate executives by Development Counselors International raises some red flags about perceptions of the Pacific Northwest.

For the first time in the six-year history of the economic development marketing company's survey, the two states ranked among the 10 least favorable places to do business in the United States. The results may not be as dire as they appear because it was a small survey sample. And they aren't very illuminating: The business executives weren't asked to elaborate on reasons for their votes of no confidence.

Still, a little more than 9 percent of survey respondents found Washington to be unfavorable for business and just less than 9 percent said they felt that way about Oregon.

That compares to California, ranked No. 1 as the least favorable place to do business, where more than 57 percent of the business executives in the survey gave the Golden State the thumbs down. Business people have long complained about conditions in California, but the state's ranking plummeted further from 1999, when 25 percent of respondents said the state was unfriendly to business.

Rob DeRocker, executive vice president of Development Counselors, speculated that a spate of bad news coming out of the Northwest may have tarnished the region's image. Business people watched as Boeing Co. moved its corporate headquarters from Seattle to Chicago, the dot-com companies in the Northwest folded by the score, and riots exploded in the streets of Seattle during the World Trade Organization meeting.

Meanwhile, there was little to counter the negative publicity.

The business people surveyed worked for companies doing more than $100 million in business annually. About 60 percent were manufacturing companies and 40 percent were nonmanufacturers.


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