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Is California really unfriendly to businesses?

Local businesspeople weigh in
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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High taxes, a plethora of regulations and an unbalanced state budget are among the reasons local business owners say they believe California is unfriendly to businesses. The Golden State was ranked the most unfriendly state to businesses in the most recent study by CSNBC. Despite their frustrations, business owners in Auburn say there are some benefits to doing business here, too. California ranked first in technology and innovation and access to capital for businesses. Auburn Chamber of Commerce officials say some changes in regulations could turn around the perception that California is a bad state to do business in, but those changes don?t seem likely to come. Other business owners say they are frustrated with some aspects of owning a business in California, but don?t want to move either. Bruce Cosgrove, CEO of the Auburn Chamber of Commerce, said business owners often share with him their frustrations related to owning a business in the state. ?It?s one thing to want to be a business friendly state. It?s another thing to be willing to make the kind of investment,? Cosgrove said. ?I?m not talking about money ? it?s policy, procedure, regulations. It wouldn?t take a lot to change that perception.? Cosgrove said the most common complaints center around permitting and environmental regulations. Most businesses see the value of protecting the environment now, he said, but they are burdened by excessive regulations. ?To the extent that it drives business from doing business, from even risking the investment or continued investment, that is where I am saying it?s easy to make a change,? Cosgrove said. ?I?m not saying we do away with environmental constraints or regulations, I am saying we don?t use those regulations and restraints to discourage new industry and business from locating in California.? He said moving a business is not an easy task and each year many businesses in California find the reasons compelling enough to go elsewhere. There are some compelling reasons to stay in the state, too, he added. Among them are the climate and willingness of people to try new things. ?The people of California are open to the adventure of new business, the opportunity of new development, new ideas, new experiences and that is the perfect environment for entrepreneurship,? Cosgrove said. The same passion for innovation and development needs to spread beyond the Silicon Valley and hi-tech industry, he added. Putting mechanisms in place to work with businesses that are considering leaving the state would also help retain businesses, he said. Tom Dwelle Sr., partner in Flyers Energy, formerly called Nella Oil, said it can be hard to do business in California. Flyers Energy operates in California and Northern Nevada, but is based in California. ?I love California and I am not going anywhere. Every now and then I?ll suggest to my board we need to shut this down and move to Nevada,? Dwelle said. ?Environmental regulations and taxes ? it?s so unfriendly. It?s just difficult.? Dwelle said business is doing well in California, though, and he enjoys recreating in the state. Dr. Bill Kirby, Auburn city councilmember and local urologist, said he believes the larger problem in the state is the budget is unbalanced, so the legislature continues to raise taxes to keep up, including those on businesses. Among local business concerns are the need for reform of Americans with Disabilities Act regulations to give business owners enough time to correct violations before they are sued, he said. Kirby said he believes until the pensions of state employees are reformed, taxes will continue to rise on businesses. ?If they improve the economic climate in the state of California, businesses would stay here,? Kirby said. ?It?s absolutely beyond belief and without reform in our public employee situation, we will never have relief in this state.? Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com, or follow her on Twitter @AJ_News.