Nevada's crummy economy might actually have helped the state grab some positive publicity for a change.
The Silver State ranked No. 5 on the list of Best States for Business in the latest issue of Chief Executive magazine, which surveyed 651 corporate leaders on state taxation and regulation, quality of work force and living environment. Nevada edged up a spot, from No. 6 a year ago.
You can credit the real estate collapse and record unemployment for at least some of that improvement, local observers said. Homes and offices here are cheaper than they've been in years, which factors into lifestyle evaluations, and a 13.7 percent jobless rate statewide means abundant, affordable labor.
"We're in a better position than we were three or four years ago," said Brian Gordon, a principal in local research and consulting firm Applied Analysis. "We have a significant amount of business capacity, whether it's in human resources or physical space, and price points have been correcting. From an employee standpoint, the cost of living is much lower than it was, and housing prices have reset. That's a competitive advantage."
Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, chairman of the Nevada Commission on Economic Development, said the spotlight on Nevada's business climate will help diversify the state's economy.
"I'm thrilled that Nevada is continuing to receive national attention for being a pro-business state that understands the value of industry growth in creating jobs," he said. "Nevada is committed to continuing its concerted and coordinated efforts toward a strategically diversified economy, which will provide new job opportunities and allow us to compete and thrive in the national and global economies."
Nevada's prime economic-diversification hunting ground, California, ranked as the worst place to do business.
The magazine noted that California's income and sales taxes are among the nation's highest. The publication also noted that California's politicians seem "consumed with how to divide a shrinking pie rather than how to expand it."
Chief Executive also quoted several California company leaders who have grown disenchanted with doing business in California.
"The leadership of California has done everything in its power to kill manufacturing jobs in this state," said one chief executive officer who went unnamed. "As I stated at our annual meeting, if we could grow our crops in Reno, we'd move our plants tomorrow."
Added Bill Dormandy, CEO of San Francisco medical-device maker ITC: "California has a good living environment but is unfavorable to business and the state taxes are not survivable. Nevada and Virginia are encouraging business to move to their states with lower tax rates and less regulatory demands."
The Nevada Development Authority has long looked to poach unhappy business owners from the Golden State. The local economic-diversification nonprofit on Wednesday rolled out a $1 million advertising campaign in Southern California. The ads continue the authority's 10-month-old "monkey" theme, which compared California lawmakers to chimpanzees and highlighted Nevada's relatively lower cost of doing business.
It's a message with increasing traction, said Somer Hollingsworth, president and chief executive officer of the authority.
"Companies are fascinated by Las Vegas," he said. "They find the quality of our work force unbelievable. A lot of them never looked at Las Vegas for its work force or as an environment for doing business. We've always been an environment for recreation. Now, they're beginning to take a hard look at us as a place to do business."
Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at email@example.com or 702-380-4512.