Area Development
{{RELATEDLINKS}}The Southern States have reassessed and implemented new economic development strategies designed to attract sustainable industries. The results are in for the 2014 Top States for Doing Business Survey. We all have different opinions regarding who made, who did not make, or who should have made the list. But the survey is reaffirming that several states in the Southern region are at the top of the list. Looking at this year’s survey and comparing it to the past surveys, we can see that a lot of progress has also been made in other regions as well. States such as Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan are moving up rapidly. Other individual states have done well in their own right but are not on the list. Why do these Southern States keep reappearing at the top? Understanding their advantages, some natural — but most based on good solid strategy — does provide lessons for other states. Historically, the South hasn’t always been at the top of such lists. In fact, relatively recent dire circumstances forced states in this region to reassess and implement complete new strategies. The Carolinas’ main textile industry was hollowed out and had to be replaced with new sustainable industries. Although blessed with natural resources, in the mid 1980s, Texas realized it was too dependent on the oil and gas industry and concluded it had to diversify the economy — which it did quite successfully. Most Southern States also turned to attracting FDI as a means to creating new jobs. Louisiana is the latest in the region making sweeping changes to the way business is done. The bottom line — over the past few decades the South has reorganized and has gone after capital investment in a very serious way.

The result — the region is the most successful in embracing and fine-tuning a free-market platform — which certainly encourages direct investment. The Southern States perform extremely well in most aspects of promoting, attracting, servicing, and retaining investments as reflected within the survey results. They are competing head-on with each other in this dynamic region, which forces keen competition.

This is all good news for the investor. From their perspective, the region offers a location where it can set up easily, source locally or import using local world-class ports, make a product at a reasonable price with reasonable regulations, and sell a product directly into the heart of the largest consumer base in the world — with the biggest expansion of this base being their own region.

To the South, this means jobs. To continue this success, the region must provide skilled workers, and the workforce development agencies of these states are among the best. The reason the South dominates the survey — they work together to welcome and nourish the investor. Expect the Southern States to be here on the list next year as well.