Scott Olson/Getty Images
The City of Chicago believes turnabout is fair play.
For years, Texas has been trying to lure businesses away from other states, particularly those with higher taxes. The red state has even run ads promoting its low taxes and light regulations, while criticizing the “tax and spend policies of the liberal leadership” in blue states like California, New York and Illinois.
But now, Chicago is turning the tables on Texas, by trying to recruit social liberals in the Lone Star state in the wake of its new laws banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and restricting voting access.
Chicago recently took out full page ads in the Sunday editions of the Dallas Morning News, that included this language:
There were always more than 100 reasons why Chicago is a great place for business. Now we’d like to highlight a few more.
“In Chicago, we believe in science to fight COVID. We believe in people’s right to vote and we believe in protecting reproductive rights,” Chicago’s Chief Marketing Officer Michael Fassnacht said, restating the content of the newspaper ad.
Fassnacht is also CEO of World Business Chicago, the city’s nonprofit economic development arm, which created and sponsored the ad. He says his target audience is Texans who disagree with the socially conservative laws.
“If you believe similar things and have those same values, you might want to consider Chicago to start your career, to start a company or to relocate,” Fassnacht told NPR.
Fassnacht doesn’t expect to see a convoy of moving vans with Texas license plates rolling up Chicago’s iconic Lake Shore Drive anytime soon, but he says social issues like abortion rights, voting rights, and racial justice are increasingly important to the talent companies need to grow and thrive.
“I think last year, and the civic unrest and the killing of George Floyd has opened people’s eyes,” Fassnacht said. “And I think business leaders nowadays understand they don’t have to be political, but on key social issues, they probably have to take a stand because their talent pool, their employee base, want to know [where they stand].”
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, is joining the effort. Politico reports that Pritzker is writing letters to the CEOs of Dell Technologies, Hewlett-Packert, Match.com, Oracle and other major Texas-based corporations, criticizing “radical legislators in Texas” and urging them to move north to a state that “embraces the 21st century and aligns with your company’s values to ensure women succeed.”
A recent poll by the firm PerryUndem on behalf of the Tara Health Foundation found that nearly two-thirds of college-educated workers surveyed say the new Texas abortion law would discourage them from taking a job in the state.
But in an interview earlier this month on CNBC, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott dismissed such hand-wringing.
“The people who are not wringing their hands are the people who create jobs that run businesses that care about their daily lives and people are choosing Texas over any other state,” Abbott said. “People vote with their feet and this is not slowing down businesses coming to the state of Texas at all. In fact, it is accelerating the process of businesses coming to Texas.”
Abbott’s press secretary Renae Eze added this in a statement: “The Texas economy is booming. People and businesses vote with their feet, and month after month they are choosing to move to Texas more than any other state in the country. Businesses are relocating to and investing in the Lone Star State at a record pace because we’ve built a framework that allows free enterprise to flourish and hardworking Texans to prosper.”