DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – In 1849, finding gold at Sutter’s Mill set off a historic Gold Rush to California. Today, though, businesses are leaving that state to seek their fortunes elsewhere: Many of which are either or expanding or relocating in Texas.
The most recent – and high profile – example happened just this month, as California staple In-N-Out Burger opened its two southernmost locations in Frisco and Allen. As predicted, scores of former Golden State residents lined up, causing hours-long waits in its opening days.
Like many businesses, former California residents are happy to reside in the Lone Star State for similar reasons.
“I have no second thoughts, no qualms, no reluctance about what I’ve done and moved to Texas,” said Joe DeInnocentes, a California transplant. “I’m not sure I’d ever go back to California, quite frankly.”
For DeInnocentes, the state economy is stronger here. His whole family is employed, he said. The state’s unemployment rate sits at 8.1 percent compared to California’s 12.3 percent. The national average is 8.7 percent.
“Certainly, California is not a business-friendly state,” said Biff Comte, who is moving his entire corporate headquarters of his home health care business AccentCare to Texas.
The business is currently settling into its North Dallas property, and only brought about 15 workers with it. That means, Comte said, about 80 new jobs for Texans. But why move?
“Everything from the lawsuits, to the taxes too,” he said. “They’re just going to get worse until they fix their problems. So instead of fighting it, we decided, let’s go to a state and a city that really wants business.”
As his company expands coast- to-coast, having a major airport in the center of the country is vital. Executives can be anywhere in North American in just four hours, and being in the Central Time Zone means being able to communicate with both coasts during regular business hours.
But in the California capitol of Sacramento, Gerar Zawaydeh said he struggles to keep his restaurants open because of state bureaucracy.
“Every year, the legislature introduces a lot of regulations as far as small businesses are concerned that could prove to be costly,” he said. “I want to stay in California, but I also have to make a living as well.”
Another part of the allure is that Texas is a right-to-work state with no personal or corporate income tax. The labor force is considered well educated, but perhaps more importantly, it’s considered hungry for work.
“Here’s 25 to 30 companies that are currently looking at moving to North Texas,” John Crawford, president of Downtown Dallas Inc., said, flipping through a list.
Crawford works closely with city officials to lure businesses and residents to Dallas.
“Right now we’ve never had more interest from people all over the country – in fact, all over the world – in terms of looking at Texas and Dallas than we have today,” he said.
There’s a moderate climate in North Texas, as well as plentiful and well-built housing. Energetic downtown areas in Dallas and Fort Worth attract younger residents, and Crawford’s group spear-headed a plan the council approved last month to rejuvenate the downtown Dallas sector, filling it with more public transportation and affordable housing.
And the area already supports major international companies, like Kimberly-Clark.
“(Texans) do a great job of attracting companies,” Comte said.
Businesses must agree: A recent poll of CEOs ranked Texas as the No. 1 state for business, the seventh year in a row.
That same poll ranked California as the worst.