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2018 Top States for Doing Business Commentary: Can Trailing States Catch the Southern Coastal States Leading the Pack?

Those states not rated highly by the responding consultants have an opportunity to create policy to get on the leader board, but the implementation timeline must be longer than any incumbent political administration in order to achieve meaningful results.

Q3 2018
When I look at the survey results, there is regional clustering of perceived performance throughout the states based on physical location. This year, 8 of the top 10 highest performing states have borders on either the southern East or Gulf coasts, and this is consistent with results over the past several years.

By looking at the relative distribution of the votes among the leading states for each of the categories, one can determine if there is opportunity to take action to increase a state’s relative position. By focusing on target criteria, it provides policy opportunity to brand overall attractiveness for potential investment. For criteria such as business incentives, favorable general regulatory environment, utility rates, and most improved economic development policies, the distribution of the votes between the leading states was rather minimal.

For other criteria, such as cooperation and responsiveness, shovel-ready sites, access to capital, and overall corporate tax structure, the top states leading here are showing a more commanding position. This is especially true with the states perceived as having the leading workforce development programs, a key criterion for most all siting decisions. It appears that the states of Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee are beginning to run away from the pack in this category, and given their collective history, it would be particularly costly for a new state to catch up to these current levels of performance.

For the states that aren’t in the top 10, it appears that there is ample opportunity to create policy to get on to the leader board. Whatever criteria leaders choose, the program design inherently must include an implementation timeline longer than the incumbent political administration to achieve meaningful results.


  1. 1.Georgia
  2. 2.Texas
  3. 3.Alabama
  4. 4.Tennessee
  5. 5.South Carolina
  6. 6.North Carolina
  7. 7.Louisiana
  8. 8.Mississippi
  9. 9.Indiana
  10. 10.Florida
  11. 11.Ohio
  12. 12.Arizona
  13. 13.tKentucky
  14. 13.tVirginia
  15. 15.Arkansas
  16. 16.Oklahoma
  17. 17.Utah
  18. 18.tMichigan
  19. 18.tNew York
  20. 20.Nevada

Individual Categories

Overall Cost of Doing Business

  1. 1.Texas
  2. 2.Tennessee
  3. 3.tGeorgia
  4. 3.tAlabama
  5. 5.tSouth Carolina
  6. 5.tMississippi
  7. 5.tIndiana
  8. 8.North Carolina
  9. 9.tLouisiana
  10. 9.tFlorida
  11. Other: KY

Corporate Tax Environment

  1. 1.Texas
  2. 2.tTennessee
  3. 2.tFlorida
  4. 4.Georgia
  5. 5.tNorth Carolina
  6. 5.tNevada
  7. 5.tSouth Dakota
  8. 8.South Carolina
  9. 9.tVirginia
  10. 9.tUtah
  11. Others: AL, IN, AZ, LA

Business Incentives Programs

  1. 1.South Carolina
  2. 2.tGeorgia
  3. 2.tAlabama
  4. 4.Mississippi
  5. 5.Texas
  6. 6.tTennessee
  7. 6.tLouisiana
  8. 8.Oklahoma
  9. 9.tIndiana
  10. 9.tOhio
  11. 9.tNew York
  12. 9.tNew Jersey
  13. Others: VA, KY

Access to Capital & Project Funding

  1. 1.California
  2. 2.tTexas
  3. 2.tNew York
  4. 4.North Carolina
  5. 5.tGeorgia
  6. 5.tMassachusetts
  7. 7.Florida
  8. 8.tTennessee
  9. 8.tIllinois
  10. 10.Louisiana
  11. Others: CO, NJ, MI, PA, CT, MD

Competitive Labor Environment

  1. 1.Texas
  2. 2.tGeorgia
  3. 2.tNorth Carolina
  4. 4.Florida
  5. 5.Tennessee
  6. 6.tAlabama
  7. 6.tIndiana
  8. 6.tArizona
  9. 9.tUtah
  10. 9.tOhio
  11. Others: SC, MS

Leading Workforce Development Programs

  1. 1.Georgia
  2. 2.Alabama
  3. 3.Louisiana
  4. 4.tSouth Carolina
  5. 4.tTennessee
  6. 6.North Carolina
  7. 7.tVirginia
  8. 7.tOhio
  9. 9.Florida
  10. 10.tMississippi
  11. 10.tIowa
  12. 10.tCalifornia

Shovel-Ready Sites Program

  1. 1.Tennessee
  2. 2.Georgia
  3. 3.Alabama
  4. 4.South Carolina
  5. 5.North Carolina
  6. 6.Ohio
  7. 7.Texas
  8. 8.tIndiana
  9. 8.tMississippi
  10. 10.tKentucky
  11. 10.tLouisiana
  12. Others: AR, VA, IA, WI

Cooperative & Responsive State Government

  1. 1.Georgia
  2. 2.South Carolina
  3. 3.North Carolina
  4. 4.Alabama
  5. 5.Tennessee
  6. 6.tMississippi
  7. 6.tLouisiana
  8. 8.Arizona
  9. 9.tIndiana
  10. 9.tVirginia
  11. Others: OH, TX, AR

Favorable General Regulatory Environment

  1. 1.tAlabama
  2. 1.tGeorgia
  3. 3.Texas
  4. 4.South Carolina
  5. 5.Tennessee
  6. 6.Louisiana
  7. 7.Mississippi
  8. 8.Florida
  9. Others: NC, IN, AR, KY, UT, KS, NV

Favorable Utility Rates

  1. 1.Alabama
  2. 2.Georgia
  3. 3.tIndiana
  4. 3.tOhio
  5. 3.tMichigan
  6. 6.tKentucky
  7. 6.tNorth Carolina
  8. 8.Tennessee
  9. 9.tSouth Carolina
  10. 9.tArizona
  11. 9.tVirginia
  12. Others: AK, ID, CO

Most Improved Economic Development Policies

  1. 1.Alabama
  2. 2.Georgia
  3. 3.Texas
  4. 4.tSouth Carolina
  5. 4.tMississippi
  6. 6.Tennessee
  7. 7.tLouisiana
  8. 7.tIndiana
  9. 9.Arizona
  10. 10.Kentucky
  11. Others: FL, OH, AR


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