There is a new radio spot running in the Chicago area featuring Texas Governor Rick Perry suggesting Illinois businesses should move to Texas. Listen to the radio spot here and check out the associated web site texaswideopenforbusiness.com. Here is what the website says:
If you’re a business owner in Illinois, I want to express my admiration for your ability to survive in an environment that, intentionally or not, is designed for you to fail.
With rising taxes and government interference on the upswing, your situation is not unlike a burning building on the verge of collapse. If you’re thinking of “just riding it out” you might want to reconsider.
There is an escape route to economic freedom… a route to Texas. The Lone Star State has proven that limited government, low taxes, and a pro-business mindset work wonders when it comes to job creation and a robust economy. If you’re ready for a fresh start in a place that appreciates job creators like you, it’s time to check out Texas.
This echoes the glee in Indiana and Wisconsin when Illinois raised taxes several years ago.
Texas is indeed growing at a rate that a number of states, including Illinois, can only envy. Texas is known for warmer weather (actually, quite hot weather), lower taxes, and is a Republican-dominated state in recent decades. Metropolitan areas like Dallas, Houston, and Austin are booming. And yet, there are still businesses that are willing to locate in and near Chicago. Perhaps it is the world-class city with international connections as well as unique character. Perhaps it is the base of human capital with both high-skill and low-skill workers. Perhaps Chicago’s location in the middle of the country and at the center of transportation networks still matters to some.
I imagine many businesses are already aware of the business climate differences between Illinois and Texas. Is this just an attempt to trumpet the successes of Texas and poke Illinois in the eye?
The troubles of Detroit have been well documented and discussed in the American media in recent years (see here and here). So why would Chrysler mount a full advertising campaign (and I see this commercial almost every commercial break at times) based on Detroit for its new 200 model? See the long-form (2:03) video here.
The entire campaign seems to be built around this idea that Detroit is something different: the ad says it is not New York, Chicago, or Las Vegas. While we get some typical shots, of a high school team running and a woman ice skating, the emphasis is on their hard work. The scenes on the street are at night with steam coming out of manhole covers as the 200 rolls along. The longer ad features Eminen, perhaps the only celebrity known to most Americans as being from Detroit (does Kid Rock count?). And all of this is driven home by the tagline: “Imported from Detroit.”
Perhaps the strategy is this: why not take all of this talk about Detroit’s darker side (and the commercial mentions that this is a “town that has been to hell and back”) and turn it around so that the commercial makes a positive point about this gritty, tough, and edgy car. Will this explicit linking to Detroit, a city on the decline, boost sales of a particular car model? Do Detroit residents see this commercial as positive and representative of their city?
On the drive home from work last week, I heard a new radio advertisement where New Jersey governor Chris Christie appealed to Illinois businesses to take advantage of New Jersey’s business-friendly climate. The typical appeal was made: possible tax breaks or incentives, proximity to New York City and other notable cities, and an able work force await in New Jersey. Hear the ad here. (And New Jersey is not the first state to make an appeal in Illinois since Illinois raised its personal income and business tax rates.)
On the question of whether such radio advertisements actually do draw businesses to another state: I would guess that the success rate is low. In fact, perhaps the main goal is not to attract businesses from Illinois but rather to alert New Jersey residents that the state government is doing all it can to attract businesses and jobs and that it has a good business climate compared to other states. States have certain options by which they can attract jobs or make direct appeals to businesses and an opportunity like this, where a state notably raises taxes, presents an opportunity to make a comparison.
A few other pieces of information would be helpful in interpreting this advertisement:
1. How exactly does New Jersey’s business climate compare to Illinois in areas like the tax rate, labor force, etc.? How many businesses have moved back or forth in recent years?
2. Is Christie’s ad politically motivated? Here is a chance for a Republican governor to tweak a Democratic state.