Good-bye, corporate neighbor. Not even California weather, coastal location, a Prius-loving population, and cultural cachet can keep big businesse like Toyota.
I learned late Friday from a reliable source (not a journalist) that Toyota Motor Sales USA in Torrance, Calif., home to LCT Magazine and Bobit Business Media, would be announcing today its big vamoose to the Dallas, Texas region by 2016. The news broke across the media on Sunday. It repeats some bad history here, when Nissan announced in November 2005 that it was moving its North American headquarters from nearby Gardena. Calif., to Franklin, Tenn. I was business editor at the local newspaper at that time when it went down with its loss of thousands of well-paying middle to upper middle class professional jobs.
The official reason given for the move is that Toyota wants to place its sales, marketing, administrative and support divisions closer to auto production in Texas and other states -- ones that we should point out were able to attract the auto plants in the first place. But regardless of those official statements being made today, those of us who live here don't need to be told why Toyota is leaving. State government and many local governments enact policies that are openly hostile to big business and free-market economic solutions. California over the years easily could have brought auto plants here so that corporate headquarters, auto production and major shipping ports are all in one place. [Word to Gov. Jerry Brown: Gov. Rick Perry of Texas done lassoed your legacy].
This announcement does not really affect the chauffeured transportation industry per se, although LCT benefits from being close to a major automaker headquarters. We can conveniently pick up and evaluate Toyota livery vehicles for product reviews, and visit with the members of the Toyota livery team who are based here. The latest sales figures show that Toyota is gaining clients for the Avalon and Highlander models it sells to the limousine industry.
But when one of our major industry vendors makes a move like this, it should remind everyone why limo operators and businesspeople must remain active through trade associations and across the political scene standing up for fewer regulations and more pro-business approaches. California is Exhibit A for how to lose business friends and alienate the middle class. The state has been steadily shedding corporate headquarters for more than a decade. It's even bleeding out beloved Hollywood moviemaking production to the point that, in a stunning plot twist, Hollywood liberals are calling for tax breaks! Ditto for the state's globally lucrative and entrenched porn industry, which is looking to, um, reposition itself in other places.
In fact, the best way to play the blame game here is to actually envision California casted in a Planet-Of-The-Apes-style porn flick. The feature would consist of mindless, unscripted scenes involving smarmy character groups of regulatory fetishists, public pension bondage artists, nudie-loony environmental exhibitionists, and insatiable gangs of unionistas. This is one ensemble cast that deserves to be California's biggest export.
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