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State Your Case Many states are luring small businesses with big promises--so what's in it for you?

By Chris Penttila

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Bruce Cowan is a California native. He graduated from theUniversity of California, Los Angeles, and started electronics chipand computer products distributing company Acclaim Electronics fiveyears ago in Carlsbad, California.

But his state of mind changed as California enacted legislationhe felt was increasingly anti-business. Eventually, Cowan, 38,reached a breaking point. In November 2003, he moved the20-employee company to Las Vegas. "I'm a political andeconomic refugee from California," says Cowan, who contendsCalifornia has "created a hostile environment towardbusinesses."

"Entrepreneurial refugees" such as Cowan seek greenerbusiness pastures, and many states paint them a pretty picture.Last fall, Oregon's governor sent 250 letters to small andmidsize California companies. Nevada is bombarding California withbillboards and newspaper ads. South Dakota's economicdevelopment entrepreneurs compare thestate's tax rates, crime index and educational statistics tothose of other states.

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