New York State, which for years has watched business wooed away to other regions, has launched an unprecendented advertising blitz to staunch the outward flow and persuade business that Albany - the capital - can be very friendly.
The campaign to sell New York is based on a market research survey which found that the state's anti-business image is so entrenched that roughly 75 percent of its business leaders were doubtful that the state had incentives to help businesses.
Commissioner John S. Dyson of the New York Commerce Department has been telephoning business executives who he hears are considering pulling up stakes. "The first 20 minutes of conversation is always an effort to get over an enormous credibility barrier," Dyson said.
When Dyson attempts to explain advantages available under New York laws, he said, many businessmen respond with certitude that "New York is so idiotic they would never have such things."
The advertising campaign that began earlier this month in New York newspapers and magazines, on radio and on train station billboards echoes Dyson's personal messages.
It begins with a mea culpa.
"For over ten years now New York State has built up a bad taste in a lot of mouths . . . we have no one to blame but ourselves."
Then the advertisement moves onto the offensive listing tax incentives and natural economic advantages of doing business in New York.
In the last year, Dyson's department did confidential tax comparisons of New York and other states for companies that were considering pulling up stakes. "In 88 percent of these cases, we showed New York taxes were lower, the advertisement says.
Dyson offers a similar study to other businesses.
Commerce officials also have established special telephone numbers to contact "red tape cutters" - officials who help callers deal with New York's large and often immovable bureaucracy.
New York lost 473,000 jobs between 1969 and 1976, a time when the national labor force was increasing. Other northeastern states suffered stagnation, but none was as hard hit as New York.
The advertising campaign is aimed at retaining companies already in New York rather than attracting others. "We have no business selling to other areas while the mood here is so bad," one official said.
The only exception is Europe. New York is already the American base for the overwhelming majority of foreign companies seeking further information. Other ads will appear in France, Switzerland and West Germany. They are the first advertisements New York has ever run overseas.
The entire campaign will cost about $1 million before the end of the state fiscal year March 31. Dyson and his deputy William Doyle, plan to keep up the campaign in the next fiscal year.