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Straight from the Horse’s Mouth: What Matters for Businesses

The West Virginia Department of Commerce recently posted a “success story” featuring Paul Lambert, president of STaSIS Engineering, an auto service company that moved from California to West Virginia in 2009, and is planning to expand.

So why did Mr. Lambert move his company to West Virginia? Isn’t our business personal property tax a job killer? Aren’t we out of step with other states when it comes to taxes? Mr. Lambert could have located in Pennsylvania or Ohio, and paid no business personal property tax, or any of the 44 states where the total business tax burden is lower than in West Virginia.
 
At the risk of repeating myself, factors like access to markets and inputs, quality public services, a highly trained workforce, and a high quality of life all matter more to successful businesses than taxes. And that taxes themselves are only a small part of the cost of doing business. Did these factors influence Mr. Lambert and STaSIS Engineering? I’ll let him speak for himself.
 
“It’s been a very strong move for us. We’re within four hours of about 40 million people, and yet we’re in West Virginia. We have a nice, good quality of life, fairly low-cost ability to run a business and we’re still within proximity of major metropolitan areas and consumers.

“We’re very pleased in West Virginia. We were impressed with the openness of state government…

“There is a strong workforce through this Mid-Atlantic, Northeastern corridor…You’ve got good trades people and you have good engineering professionals. That’s the mix we need.”

And as for why STaSIS left California, it wasn’t just the threat of tax increases in order the close California’s budget deficit (even though according to COST WV’s business tax burden is greater than CA’s), it was the threat of cuts to public services and the corresponding quality of life that Mr. Lambert cited, saying, 
 
“Here (California) we are looking at class sizes going from 20 to 30 kids,” said Lambert, who has two girls, ages 3 and 5. “But there I just enrolled by daughter in a class of 13.”

Quality public services, access to markets and inputs, and a quality workforce. Those are what makes the difference.

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