What’s it take to be recognized as a top state for doing business? On one hand, it’s a complicated question to answer, because there are a lot of factors that go into that kind of a reputation. On the other hand, you can get a pretty good idea of what it takes by checking out the attributes of some of the states that top the list.
The overall cost of doing business is, of course, a primary consideration, one that encompasses a wide range of components, from real estate costs to utility rates to labor expenses. The environment created by state and local leaders plays a big role, too — the choices they make on tax structures and business incentives can tip the scales on cost, and they also can impact the no-hassle factor driven by their overall responsiveness, their regulatory practices, and how fast they respond to permitting requests. And the kinds of workforce programs states establish make a tremendous difference in both labor-related costs and hiring challenges. A location or facility project won’t get far without adequate capital, either, and that’s a factor that can vary quite a bit from one place to another.
Site consultants have an insider’s view into all of these factors — and an unbiased perspective, too. That’s why Area Development’s Top States for Doing Business analysis solicits the views of in-the-know consultants. For 2016, we surveyed consultants and asked them to name their top state picks in each of 10 categories that impact location and facility decisions. They shared their top picks in each category, and we weighted those scores to come up with rankings within each factor, along with overall rankings that take all of the factors into account.
There’s a familiar face atop the overall rankings — Georgia is back again in the #1 spot for the third year in a row. The Peach State rode to the top by ranking in the top six spots on each of the factors in the survey — including #1 picks for cooperative and responsive state government as well as workforce development programs, and #2 for competitive labor environment, regulatory environment, and speed of permitting. An integrated and statewide approach to economic development puts everything from workforce to global commerce to innovation promotion to film industry support under one umbrella — and virtually every county is regularly touched by state economic development support in one way or another.
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