22 January 2011

I Hate to Say I Told You So...

Well, actually I don't mind it at all. Scott K. Walker, eat this. Just came across the news that Evraz NA, the North American subsidiary of the steel company partially owned by Russian oligarch and world's fifteenth-richest man Roman Abramovich, is relocating its headquarters to Chicago. As much as I hate Chelsea FC (which he also owns), it's nice to have my opinion validated that international business cares less about a couple percentage points worth of taxes than transportation links. It was between Chicago and tax-haven Delaware, after all, and those links need to be paid for somehow. It's only seventy jobs, most of which will be transfers from the Portland office, but symbolically it's huge.

I'm not going to go into whether or not this particular deal is actually a good one for the city. Or the fact that this does nothing to add to the city's industrial base. Or how this marks a huge psychological loss for Portland to lose what was once one of it's flagship corporations, the former Oregon Steel. Or whether Abramovich is the kind of guy we want setting up shop here. I'm trying to be positive for once.

From the Tribune's story:

The announcement comes shortly after Illinois hiked its corporate and individual income tax rates, a dramatic step that triggered a hue and cry that businesses will exit or avoid moving here. The founder of Champaign-based Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, for instance, this week told the Champaign News-Gazette that he’s considering moving the corporate headquarters out of state.
But Mike Rehwinkel, Evraz NA president and CEO, said the tax increases, while hardly a welcome turn of events, did not influence the company’s relocation decision. The key factor, he said, was getting easier, less expensive air travel out of O’Hare and Midway airports to customers with offices dotted around North America, from Dallas and Houston to Calgary and Montreal. 
“As much as people say they don’t like those airports, we love them,” he said. “We can reach all our customers, all our mills and into Europe when we need to.” Being able to reach a customer in a day trip should translate into more revenue, he said, noting that often is not possible when flying out of Portland.

Personally, I'll take an international steel conglomerate over a regional sandwich chain. Potbelly is better anyhow. Just imagine what a 220mph high-speed rail network would bring. Read the rest here.

On a more personal note, this has been the busiest week on the site ever. A huge tip of the fedora to Aaron Renn for the linkage. Monday's post on provincialism is already the most-viewed thing I've ever written, and I couldn't be happier. You all are the real heroes. I can only hope that Scott K. Walker is shedding a single tear into his Cheerios right now.

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