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Port marketing efforts focus on the California
   Last year, as many as 4,000 of California’s small manufacturers opened their e-mail to learn about Walla Walla County’s economic environment. They were responding to a Port of Walla Walla recruiting initiative used direct mail and the Internet to reach some 12,000 businesses with 100 or fewer employees.
   The message they got was simple and straightforward.
   “Tired of the high cost of operating a business in California?” they were asked. Then came the response Walla Walla, Washington, offers a cost-effective, dynamic, economically thriving environment in which to grow your business...and an affordable, safe, vibrant community for your company and employees to live.”
   In addition, the Port “mail” described the county as a haven for business.” Then it listed these valued points:
   • No state corporate income tax.
   • No state personal income tax.
   • Washington State has the 45th lowest workers
compensation rates in the nation.
   • Washington State is one of the lowest utility cost
states in the nation.
   • Affordable housing and industrial properties.
   • Low business operating costs.
    Paul Gerola, economic development director for the Port, said Walla Walla is the first in Washington State to initiate this kind of program created by iGroups, a California-based economic development marketing firm. Yakima has since decided to embark on a similar effort...and others are planning to follow our lead,” he said.
   So far, the ongoing 12-to-24-month effort has generated 55 responses that Gerola describes as “active leads.”
   “In the marketing realm, what we’re experiencing is worth the investment,” Gerola emphasized. “If we attract one new industry that creates 20 new jobs it’ll be a great success.”
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