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Statement: “We have more Fortune 500, or we’re within one or two Fortune 500 headquarters as New York and Illinois, the other two states at the top; far more than Texas or Connecticut, other wealthy states,” state Sen. Christine Kehoe said at a March 18 panel about redevelopment.
Analysis: Two weeks ago, the Downtown San Diego Partnership invited Kehoe and state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher to discuss Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to kill redevelopment agencies. City Councilman Kevin Faulconer, an opponent of the idea, moderated the lunch panel and asked Kehoe, a supporter, this question:
The elimination of redevelopment and all potential job activity as well as enterprise zones will eliminate thousands of jobs. At a time when job creation is paramount, how do you respond to people who see this as just another thing that makes California uncompetitive and business unfriendly?
Redevelopment was created to subsidize improvements to blighted areas. Faulconer and other opponents of the governor’s proposal argue that these subsidies help spur construction and taking away redevelopment would reduce construction jobs.
“Well, I hope I’m not committing heresy,” Kehoe responded to Faulconer, “but I believe California’s business friendly.”
The audience laughed and continued eating their lunches as Kehoe started listing a few arguments to support her position. Despite high unemployment, she cited a large number of entrepreneurs in the state and said California continues to attract more start-ups than elsewhere.
“We have more Fortune 500, or we’re within one or two Fortune 500 headquarters as New York and Illinois, the other two states at the top,” she said, “far more than Texas or Connecticut, other wealthy states.”
The Fortune 500 list represents the largest companies in the nation, and Kehoe referred to it as a barometer of the state’s ability to attract businesses (and their wealth). If California is so unfriendly to businesses, her argument goes, then why are some of the biggest choosing it over other states?
But while California typically ranks near the top of the chart, Kehoe’s description doesn’t match up to the list in recent years.
Here’s how the states stacked up last year:
1. California, 57
1. Texas, 57
3. New York, 56
4. Illinois, 31
15. Connecticut, 11
And in 2009:
1. Texas, 64
2. New York, 56
3. California, 51
4. Illinois, 32
15. Connecticut, 11
Texas had more top companies than California in 2009 and was tied with California last year. Kehoe was correct that California has far more Fortune 500 companies than Connecticut, though.
Since Kehoe’s comparison to Texas was wrong last year and fell short the previous year, we’ve called the statement False. She acknowledged the error and emailed us this statement, defending California’s business friendliness through a revised metric:
According to Fortune Magazine, California and Texas lead the nation in the number of Fortune 500 company headquarters with an identical 57 companies in each. Between 2009 and 2010, California enjoyed a nearly 12 percent gain in the number of Fortune 500 companies headquartered here, while Texas saw a drop of nearly 11 percent during the same period. California remains an attractive place to do business.
San Diego, by the way, houses two of California’s Fortune 500 companies. The magazine ranked Qualcomm, the telecommunications giant, 225th and Sempra Energy, the parent company of San Diego Gas & Electric, 280th.