Friday, April 02, 2010
I read Oregon Business managing editor’s Ben Jacklet’s blog post last week about the “phantom exodus” of Oregon companies after the vote on tax Measures 66 and 67 as a business strategist, not as the magazine's publisher. And I responded as many of those who have commented did — with anger.
But after some deep breaths, re-reads of the column and a conversation with Ben, I realized the disconnect.
Ben’s message is directed at those who would hijack this sensitive topic for political or personal gain. He is a “just-the-facts” type of reporter, and a good one, too. Without facts, there is only spin and if that spin hurts business in Oregon then you will likely read about it on in our pages or on our website.
But I want to add one thing: There is real fear and real pain on the part of business owners and executives. I know because I’m one. With each new piece of legislation, policy, tax or even trend comes both an obstacle and opportunity. But the low-hanging savings fruit was picked long ago.
What we have left are very real, very harsh and very definitely not phantom “what ifs.”
What if I downsized some more? What if I delayed that rehire? Should I move to smaller office space or have a virtual office? Should I replace employees with independent contractors? Should I leave personal costs such as health care to the employee? A responsible executive examines every possible angle. Freelance vs. in-house? Job consolidation? Elimination of land lines? Merge with my competition? The list goes on and on. And yes, we also ask ourselves, “What if I moved the company?”
Some of the “what if’s” are feasible. Some are ridiculous. Some are implemented. Some are rejected after a little research. Still, the process goes on and is a very tangible and important part of business strategy.
There are those who would exaggerate their business plans to promote a point of view. But there are those who are very seriously affected by each new assault on the business climate in Oregon, and I think we should continue to make the “what ifs” heard. The vote is the vote, as Ben said, but the consequences of the vote are real, too, and I wonder “what if” we let voters know what happens to business after the vote has been settled.
Andrew Insinga is the CEO of Mediamerica, which publishes Oregon Business.