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Hyster's high-stakes auction

With just about everybody competing for factories that bring jobs, corporations ordinarily shop around for the best financial incentives before deciding where to locate. But Hyster Co., a forklifl manufacturer based in Portland, Ore., has carried this game a step further and used it for decisions about existing plants. The result: a high-stakes game of musical chairs in which the stingiest locality loses its Hyster plant when the music stops.

Hyster (1982 estimated sales: $415 million) had spectacular growth in the 1970s before its business began to fall off. Like those of other heavy equipment makers, its profits have been...

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