The talk in the Wall Street West conference room at the Omni Hotel on Friday was all about money.
Two out-of-state governors — Gary Herbert, R-Utah, and Bob McDonnell, R-Va. — were holding meetings in San Francisco into the evening, wrapping up the second day of a swing through California to raise awareness about the business opportunities that are available in their states.
Herbert and McDonnell said the idea behind their trip — which started in Costa Mesa on Thursday and included a stop in Palo Alto on Friday morning — was not to poach existing businesses from the state, but rather to educate firms about what Utah and Virginia can offer.
Herbert said the competition among states is real, but that it should not be contentious.
“It is helping us all become better and stronger states economically,” he said.
The governors said they had met with many businesses and groups during the trip, including tech companies and venture capital firms. McDonnell said he touted benefits Virginia offers, such as its close proximity to Washington, D.C., and a special tax break for Internet server companies.
Both governors talked about the venture capital companies that exist in California and how important it was to them to educate the people who back new companies about the business-friendly environments that exist in their states.
“Our No. 1 priority in Utah is to grow our own businesses,” Herbert said. “It is much easier to grow your own than to bring people from other places, particularly if there is no reason for them to want to move.”
It’s not uncommon for governors or other officials to travel out of state to talk about business. Earlier this year, Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry traveled to California to talk to companies. And while the Utah and Virginia governors were here, California Gov. Jerry Brown was in China on a trade mission with a Bay Area business group.
“We all compete,” McDonnell said. “We really do believe that states competing with one another is good for the country.”