But a state’s talent pool can only take it so far. Few states are blessed with as benevolent a climate and a first-rate university system as California, yet it is consistently ranked last each year by CEOs. In 2014, it topped New York for the largest out-migration of people. Much of the reason lies with the perception that Sacramento has a hostile attitude toward business.
Stephen Gordon was mad as hell at California government, and he wasn’t going to take it anymore. So the chairman, CEO and president of Opus Bank launched a $1 billion challenge fund to provide capital to businesses that dare to expand their operations in California. . . And Gordon has tired of California relying on its crown jewels: high-tech companies. “Real America isn’t Silicon Valley,” he said. “The bulk of America is driven by businesses that aren’t sexy. You cannot bet all of California on that [sector] and then shut out the rest of America.”
One of the biggest factors in CEOs’ thinking is the attitude that local and state authorities have toward business and the perceived capriciousness of regulations, particularly those imposed on smaller firms least able to bear the costs. In this respect, if it were possible to rank 60th out of 50 states, California would likely rank No. 61. Joseph Vranich, an expert on corporate relocations, has counted more than 200 major companies with tens of thousands of employees that left the Golden State over the last four years.