Idaho governor woos new business with 'love letter'

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by NISHI GUPTA
Idaho's NewsChannel 7

NWCN.com

Posted on March 11, 2010 at 10:08 AM

Updated Thursday, Mar 11 at 3:24 PM

BOISE -- In this economy, Governor Otter hopes out-of-state companies will think business looks better in Idaho.

And to court them he's written what he calls a love letter to gain their interest.

Governor Otter says now is the time to lure companies to the Gem State saying decisions being made in Washington and Oregon could lead to more business here.

Oregon lawmakers recently passed tax increases on some businesses and the wealthy and leaders in Washington state are considering tax hikes.

Otter's banking on that to open the door to Idaho.

"You look for a place where there is predictability. If you're going to build an asset, if you're going to put brick and mortar together and you got a certain amoritization rate you know what your paybacks are going to be in order to convince your stockholders your capital services, you got to be pretty certain of what that is," said Governor Butch Otter.

In a letter published in Oregon and Washington newspapers, Otter talks about the advantage of doing business in Idaho over its neighbors.
 
One of those governors didn't take that too kindly.

"Everything is fair game, but to suggest that somehow there's this massive tax going on in my state that puts my business to a detrimental level compared to yours is simply not fair," said Washington Governor Christine Gregoire.

Governor Otter says when they talked though, their conversation was more amicable.

“I agree we should have a bet for the first business that moves from Washington to Idaho or the first business that moves from Idaho to Washington and I'm prepared to ante on that bet,” says Otter.

No matter who wins that bet, there's no doubt his “love letter” generated interest.

The letter was published Monday. The next day, the Idaho Department of Commerce was busy with calls.

"Typically what we expected to hear from was the smaller business located primarily along the border and those came right away," Don Dietrich of the Idaho Department of Commerce said.

Their task now is to market the Gem State.

"We treat all of them seriously and I think we will end up with some businesses that come across the border. It's still early but I think we stand a very good chance of attracting some additional employers,” Dietrich said.

Governor Otter says businesses in Idaho are fair game and if other states want to attract them, so be it.

He says it's up to Idaho to provide them with an environment in which they want to stay.

In 2009, CNBC ranked Idaho as the 9th best state for business, Oregon 20th and Washington came in at 23rd.

In 2009, Forbes ranked Idaho 12th, Oregon placed 17th and Washington came in at 27th.

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