Joe Vranich made a name for himself complaining about Californias business climate.
Now, hes taken his love-hate relationship to the next level: Hes moved from Irvine back to the state where he grew up — the Pittsburgh suburb of Cranberry Township.
“There are companies that can afford the nonsense that comes out of Sacramento,” says the business-relocation consultant of state lawmakers. “They have nothing better to do than have contempt for business. Well, I showed my contempt for them. I left.”
Vranichs periodic reports tracking companies departing California made him a media darling during and after the financial meltdown and resulting business downturn that hammered the state, nation and even global economies a decade ago.
His escalating tab of “disinvestment” — combining corporate departures, out-of-state expansions by California firms and some guestimation — were often-quoted by critics who think the states double-dose of business taxes and regulations harms the states economy.
My personal beef with Vranichs analysis was it didnt consider the concurrent inflow of other employers and employees to the state or Californias knack for starting new businesses. And Ill note that my own research, using data from American Express and Dun & Bradstreet, showed in 2014 through 2017 California added more companies than any other state. And, oh, the biggest loser? Pennsylvania!
Vranich lived and operated his one-man consultancy in California for 20 years. And he admits, “its the best place Ive ever lived as far as quality of life. Its largely the weather.”
When I asked him how Californias economy has prospered despite all the ailments he sees, he noted that the huge scale of the state creates certain opportunities such as consumer products.
“Youd be a madman to ignore California” in such fields, he admits.
But the size comes with an operational price. “The Googles of the world can afford California. They can afford the regulations. A small guy like me cannot.”
A key reason he relocated was high California taxes. Hes got a long-term, out-of-state real estate investment that required some tax-planning before cashing in so “staying in California was never an option. I refuse to pay outrageous state income taxes.”
In Cranberry Township, he and his wife bought a townhouse — “I dont want to mow lawns or shovel snow” — in a fast-growing community that reminds him of Irvine: “Everything is new and clean.” And by his math, its a place thats 44 percent cheaper to live compared with his former California home.
Now, I lived seven years in Pittsburgh, and its enjoyed a remarkable turnabout from the death of local steel and coal businesses of the 1980s. But the weather can be (to be kind) dreary. The climates almost as wet, gray and cloudy as Portland or Seattle.
So I asked Vranich if hed miss Californias secret sauce, the weather — even after his new hometown region was just hit with an early spring snowstorm.
He claimed, “I just dont care.”
I promised Id check in with him after hes been there a full year!
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