Toyota is moving a big piece of its U.S. headquarters from California to Texas and Fritz Hitchcock, past chairman of the California Chamber of Commerce and owner of three Toyota dealerships thinks he knows why.
“Thank you Mary Nichols (chairwoman of the Air Resources Board) for the (excessive and expensive) environmental regulations in California, thank you (former Los Angeles Times reporter) Ken Bensinger for hammering Toyota relentlessly and unfairly (over the acceleration issue), thank you John Perez and Darrell Steinberg for ignoring business’ contributions to the state,” Hitchcock declared saying the business environment in the state is chasing companies away.
California continues to bleed jobs to Texas with the announcement that Toyota is moving its sales and marketing operation from Torrance to Plano. The company says the move would put its U.S. headquarters close to manufacturing but in truth manufacturing has already moved out of California, Toyota closing its last car manufacturing plant in 2010.
Don’t blame Toyota, Hitchcock says. Regulations and taxes are driving manufacturing away. “California is the new Detroit when it comes to manufacturing.”
Hitchcock says Toyota is a great company to work for; takes care of its employees and gives millions to Los Angeles County charities. “They’ll be missed,” he says, although he thinks the business of selling Toyotas within the state will remain unscathed.
The move could cost the state about 3000 jobs it can’t afford to lose. California currently ranks 48th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia with an unemployment rate of 8.1 percent.
Hitchcock said the Toyota move is an indictment of the business attitude among state officials. “I made my bones here and I hate what’s happening.”
Hitchcock says political leaders think companies will put up with the extra cost of doing business in California because they want to stay in the beautiful, temperate climate California offers.
“Gov. Brown’s weather tax speech is getting old,” Hitchcock says.
Business responds to economic circumstances. As California continues to rank high in cost of doing business, companies look for alternatives. Toyota is only the recent example.
The Wall Street Journal reported while in Lancaster yesterday at an event with a Chinese electric carmaker, Gov. Brown said, “We’ve got problems, we have lots of little burdens and regulations and taxes, but smart people figure out how to make it.”
Sometimes those smart people figure they best move to Texas.