The Top States for Doing Business

How does your state stack up?
October 18, 2011

The South rules, with the top five overall states for business in a special report from, with Virginia listed as numero uno. The study looked at 10 key categories:

1. Economy

2. Business-Friendliness

3. Cost of Doing Business

4. Quality of Life

5. Cost of Living

6. Infrastructure and Transportation

7. Technology and Innovation

8. Workforce

9. Education

10. Access to Capital

Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and Colorado held down second through fifth places. Dead last was Rhode Island, with Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi and West Virginia assigned 49th through 46th, respectively. (Hawaii earned a consolation prize: Its quality of life ranks No. 1.)

Former Virginia Gov. James Gilmore credited the state’s “right-to-work” status and education quality as key factors in landing the prime spot. Another ex-governor, Douglas Wilder, cited a healthy reserve fund as the linchpin of Virginia’s economic stability, which alleviates business owners’ worries about large tax increases.

Delaware scores as the most business-friendly state, with Virginia, South Dakota, Utah and Nebraska on its heels.

North Dakota has the best economy; Wyoming, Alaska, Oklahoma and Iowa complete the top five.

Kentucky takes honors for the lowest cost of living, followed by Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas.

Top infrastructure and transportation honors go to Texas, trailed by Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee.

Arkansas and Iowa tied for the lead in the cost of business category, followed by Missouri, Kentucky and Ohio.

Of course, the best state for technology and innovation is California, which earned 219 of 225 possible points. What is eyebrow-raising, though, is New York’s 212 points, followed closely by Massachusetts, Texas and Washington.

CNBC scored the states on measures of competitiveness developed with input from business groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the Council on Competitiveness.

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