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TMCNet:  The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Rex Troute column

[January 28, 2013]

The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Rex Troute column

Jan 27, 2013 (The Hawk Eye - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- It seems kind of funny in a nation called the United States of America that our 50 states battle one another when it comes to attracting new business. We are not united in the war for enterprise.


It isn't all that different from a beauty pageant. Those states with the best attributes typically win. Instead of competing in swimsuits and gowns, each state rolls out its best economic development pitches in order to draw manufacturing and industry inside its borders.

Let's roll a few contestants down the runway and see how they fare when vying for the crown.

Here comes Texas. She has a bit of an oily complexion, but that suits her just fine as it gives her a rich glow. The Lone Star State is sporting more than enough land to make any rancher happy. She also has no state income tax, which makes her appealing to any individual suitor looking to save some dinero. In the image portion of the contest, Texas can offer Gulf of Mexico beaches and western deserts. She portrays wealth with a "bigger is better" mentality.

Next down the runway is California. She is donned in a Gold Coast outfit that glimmers with Hollywood stardom and shines in Silicon Valley creativity. With the blue Pacific draped down her west side, Cally has an intoxicating allure that has seduced many from other states to obey the phrase, "go west young man, go west." As if she doesn't pack enough punch in her figure, mountains, ski slopes and entertainment abounds. Her one fault is she spends more than is in her budget. Too many trips to Rodeo Drive.

Michigan takes the stage in a rust-colored work outfit. This miss of manufacturing has lost a little bit of her pizzazz. Her hometown of the Motor City has seen its brick and mortar landscape fall into disarray. Once, one of the most striking beauties, some of the luster has worn off her looks.

New York! This femme fatale of finance nearly lost her wardrobe back in the Great Recession contest of 2008. The pageant hosts, the good ol' USA, put her back on her feet. She is starting to return to her former glory and be the Big Apple of everyone's eye. With skyscraper height and a Broadway grin, New York still dazzles those who seek fortune and fame. The darling of the Dow and the tart of Tinseltown can still pack any business into any borough.

Florida models a perfect tan line down the catwalk. Sandy beaches, palm trees and no state income tax can cast a spell on any snowbird eyeing warmer climes. Throw in a "sunshine" motto and homegrown orange juice, and Florida is a state you don't mind waking up next to in the morning. Add a little gator danger and a python hunt, and this Amazonian state gives you all the excitement you can handle.

Make room for the big shoulders of Illinois. This big city girl has a country cousin side. She can play host in a Lake Michigan condo or a Mississippi River cabin. Attorneys, merchandisers and commodities traders often come a courtin'. Illinois is not quite New York-tough, but she can handle her own. Don't give her any bull or you'll have a bear of a time.

Nevada! Probably the raciest and wildest of the business pageant contenders. She will throw big lights, glamor, dice and some skin your way to entice you to the desert. Nevada is the queen of convention, and its propensity for gambling attracts takers like mosquitoes to a zapper. Business comes to her sparkle and seduction for a holiday.

Here's Georgia. This belle of the South blossomed into the business capitol below the Mason-Dixon line. Her addiction to Coca-Cola has done nothing to her economic curves as she has maintained a diverse portfolio. A sexy drawl and mild clime hasn't hurt her powers to persuade gentlemen callers to take up business roots in her Georgia clay.

Then there is Iowa. For too long, always the runner-up to the models of other states. Sandwiched between the Missouri and Mississippi, the Hawkeye State in recent pageants has decided not to settle for second best. With the landing of Google, IBM and a couple of $1 billion babies in fertilizer, Iowa has put out notice it is here to play when it comes to economic development. A willingness to pry venture dollars out of its coffers has made her an active suitor rather than the homely maiden in the party's corner.

In today's version of the business pageant, Iowa has all the opportunity in the world to chase the tiara. There she is, Miss America! ___ (c)2013 The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa) Visit The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa) at www.thehawkeye.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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