Oregon now prime target for recruiters

An Oregon vote last month that boosts taxes on businesses and people who earn more than $125,000 in the state snapped economic development groups in northern Nevada to attention.

While they continue to focus much of their attention on California companies, potentially disgruntled business owners in Oregon will be getting more attention.

First out of the gate was Nevada Business Connections, a private industry recruitment group headquartered in Carson City, that launched an initiative last week to sell Oregon companies on the benefits of moving to Nevada.

The initiative dubbed the "Oregon Trail to Nevada Task Force" targets Oregon companies that are unhappy with higher taxes in the state. Voters last month approved a measure that sets the highest income tax rate in Oregon at 11 percent, and OK'd a second measure that boosts business taxes.

David Toll of Gold Hill Publishing, a member of the Nevada Business Connections task force, said the group hopes to tell its story through interviews with Oregon news media as well as paid advertising.

The group also plans to send Kris Holt, its executive director, to visit with targeted companies that might be open to hearing a relocation pitch from Nevada.

The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, meanwhile, fielded calls from a couple of major employers in Oregon within days of the passage of the tax law.

"Oregon has become the low-hanging fruit," said Kevin Frausto, an EDAWN business development manager.

From those first few calls, Frausto said he believes some large companies in Oregon may be looking to relocate to Nevada's tax-friendly environment.

"We're here to answer the call," he said.

Before the Oregon vote, about 4 percent of the calls to EDAWN from companies scouting northern Nevada locations came from the Northwest, compared with about 20 percent from California.

The Northern Nevada Development Authority headquartered in Carson City also is seeing effects of the Oregon vote.

Rob Hooper, NNDA's executive director, notes that the authority has been working with some Oregon companies for many months in the often slow-moving process of economic recruitment.

"But now," Hooper says, "they're looking a little more motivated."

The Nevada Commission on Economic Development is calculating the differences in tax load between Nevada and Oregon, says Executive Director Mike Skaggs.

But even before those calculations are complete even before the votes were counted, in fact the state agency was getting inquiries from Oregon executives who were thinking of moving their companies, Skaggs says.


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