The diversity of the west — geographically, politically, culturally and economically—thwarts most attempts to pigeonhole this complex, nine-state region.


“Perhaps the region’s main appeal is that it’s so diverse,” says Angelos Angelou, founder and principal executive officer at Austin-based Angelou Economics.

Enormous diversity is found in California alone, with its remarkable positioning in an array of markets and sectors including technology, finance, agriculture, food processing, business and professional services, entertainment and many more. Some of those industries, admittedly, are hurting.

Agriculture is wilting from four years of drought; the music business continues its shrinkage, and much of the state’s film and TV production industry has been lured away by incentive-laden government officials dispatched from every state in the union. The appeal of being near, but not in California continues to attract business to the neighbors.

“People love to throw a wrench at California because it is such an innovative and creative place.”

“A lot of states have been playing the ‘We’re Cheaper Than California’ relocation game for the last decade,” says Thomas Stringer, who heads the site selection and incentives advisory program at Ryan, a global tax services firm. “People love to throw a wrench at California because it is such an innovative and creative place,” says native Angelino John Rocca, who heads his own incentive consulting firm. “The state’s doing far better than you’d think from reading the news.” Indeed, local residents still launch businesses in California, or—as they always have—migrate west from around the country for a new start.

The road, of course, runs two ways. Every day, companies leave the Golden State in search of less regulated, less costly business environments, such as those found in neighboring states like
Nevada and Oregon, and beyond, in Washington, Utah and Colorado. Meanwhile, states like Wyoming, Montana and Idaho may attract relatively few migratory companies, but continue quietly
nurturing their own home-grown industries—crops, cattle, minerals, fuel, light manufacturing—while maintaining their traditional sense of independence and resistance to government
overreach and regulatory creep.

Western states are positioned for economic success in the latter half of the 2010s, thanks to continuing innovation, increasing exposure to global distribution patterns, Asian markets, Pacific trade routes, key infrastructure improvements and access to a young, well-educated work force.


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