I’ve got a lot of pet peeves. Possibly more than most people. Which may be why I got into the media business. What better place to get things off your chest? Except some peeves don’t go away, even after exposure. This is one.

Every time someone brings up the subject of changing or adding to the tax base … local-state-federal … Chambers of Commerce and other alleged “voices of business” take up the chant “you’re going to drive more companies” – and thus jobs – “out of state.” You can count on hearing the mantra over and over. Every time.

Why is that a peeve? Because, Virginia, more often than not, it’s just not true. It gets the attention of politicians everywhere and scares people who think their jobs may be “threatened.” But there is little empiric evidence someone packs up the company – especially large ones – and says “I’m outta here” because of the regular tax changes all states undergo.

In fact, many polls and surveys have found issues of transportation links, trained work force – or lack thereof – utility costs, educational availability, corporate restructuring and proximity of suppliers are often behind a decision to move the company. The plain fact is, taxes just don’t show up near the top of the list in much of the research.

Here’s a prime example. Kendall Auto Group has been a Eugene, Oregon, based company for quite awhile. It’s grown from a couple of local dealerships to operations in Alaska, Montana, Oregon and Idaho. It’s a major player in the Northwest vehicle business, representing many brands, both domestic and foreign. Eugene is where it started and Eugene has been home.

But maybe no more. Kendall Auto has packed up the president, the vice presidents and key support staff and moved the whole bunch to Boise, Idaho. Yep, the executive suite was moved 500 miles to the East and across the border. Kendall leased a Boise building last month and bought one this month. So it appears the move is permanent. I’ll get to why, according to the company, in a moment.

First, you should know a couple of things about Idaho’s current business climate. Especially Boise. It’s not as highly rated as it once was. Several recent studies of the Treasure Valley have ranked it quite low among metropolitan areas for such things as trained workers and a local environment favorable to business. The Idaho Business Review, quoting Chief Executive Magazine, found a survey of 500 CEO’s opined “Idaho has lost more ground in the last year than almost any state, based on workforce quality, quality of life, regulation and” – wait for it -“taxes.”

While a changing tax structure was one of the rated factors, it was not the game-changer so often claimed.

Then why did Kendall pack up the executive suite, exit Oregon for Idaho and that kind of poorly ranked business environment? According to Kendall President Dave Blewett, transportation factors were key. Yep, transportation.

Kendall operates dealerships in four states with long distances between them. So, it has acquired a Challenger 300 business jet. Blewett said Boise’s airport is set up for corporate jets complete with certified jet mechanics not available in Eugene. Additionally, there was no hanger at Eugene’s airport large enough to house the jet so it sat outside. In Boise, she’s inside. When you’re talking multi-million dollar aircraft, that’s a good thing. A big thing. But move the top echelon of the company? That’s what the man says.

The whole Kendall headquarters hasn’t moved. Yet. But the company will start a new auto finance subsidiary in Boise this year. That means new jobs; Idaho jobs, not Oregon. While Kendall will continue an administrative presence in Eugene, don’t be surprised if the moving trucks show up one of these days.

If what Blewett says about transportation advantages being the key factor for relocation are true, fine. But if you look deeper and find the City of Eugene or Lane County were unable or unwilling to help making a new jet hanger possible at the airport, well, my gut feeling is there may be more to the story.

And that’s why, using the Kendall example, the overused and often false threats of business will go somewhere else if such and such a tax or override or initiative becomes law have become a peeve of mine. Businesses are as individual and different as people. They have many needs and look at many circumstances for success just like the rest of us. The good ones are not monolithic and they don’t do things on a whim. Company environment is one of constant change and seldom does just one factor – taxes or anything else – cause an exodus.

But there’s more to the Kendall move than maintaining and housing their little jet. I’d bet on it. But if taxes were at the bottom of it, I’d really be surprised. If that were the case, Pres. Blewett would have said so. Loud and clear.

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