Top 6 Business-Friendly States

A new study highlights specific strategies that all 50 states are employing to remain competitive, restore the jobs and drive economic growth. Here is the top performer in each of the key strategies that states have been using to accelerate growth and create jobs.

Amidst many states' dire budget situations and high unemployment, there are some shining stars in the United States, according to a new study by the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Some states are finding success in attracting businesses and growing their economies by redesigning government, curbing spending, modernizing the tax system and eliminating onerous regulations, the world's largest business federation reports in its second Enterprising States study.

Commissioned by the National Chamber Foundation and prepared by Praxis Strategy Group, the study highlights state-driven initiatives that have created business-friendly environments in economic development policy areas such as taxes and regulation, workforce training and infrastructure.

Below is the top state in each category.

Top Entrepreneurship and Innovation State: New Mexico

Home to Sandia and Los Alamos National Labs, New Mexico is already a center for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs, and its strength is increasing. The state ranks No. 9 in STEM job concentration, No. 8 in STEM job growth and No. 10 in entrepreneurial activity. The state is also home to one of the longest running and most successful research commercialization enterprises, Technology Ventures Corporation.

Top Export State: Louisiana

Remaining at the top of the exports list this year, the multi-port state of Louisiana ranks in the top five in all four export measures. Much of the state's exports are related to the agriculture and energy economies, but manufactured exports include various chemicals and machinery. The state's primary trading partners are China, Japan and Mexico.

Top Taxes and Regulation State: Tennessee

Tennessee's low cost of living, fourth lowest state and local tax burden and manageable budget gap place it at No. 1 in this year's tax and regulation rankings, up two places from 2010. The home state of country music and Elvis' Graceland has long been known for its business-friendly legislature and for how its commissioners of Economic Development and Revenue work together to make this "No Surprises" regulatory policy possible.

Top Workforce and Training State: Florida

The Sunshine State moves into the No. 1 spot in workforce and training rankings due to its efficient job placement system, high share of high school students in advanced placement courses and affordable and efficient higher-education system. The state places in the top three in all four measures. The Quick Response Training Program is an employer-driven training program designed to assist new value-added businesses and provide existing Florida businesses the necessary training for expansion.

Top Infrastructure State: Maine

The Pine Tree State is in the top 10 of all three infrastructure measures, including the nation's highest share of broadband connections over three megabits per second. A coalition of state and university officials and private companies created the Three Ring Binder project, a dark fiber network designed to provide the "middle-mile" telecommunications infrastructure needed to serve the state's business, academic and telemedicine needs. The network is funded with both federal and private sources.

Top Growth Performer: Alaska

Alaska ranks among the top 10 in six of seven economic performance rankings, trailing only in adjusted family income. Its fast-growing gross state product (GSP) propelled it to the No. 1 spot in this year's rankings. Over the past decade, the state has seen job growth in every industry super-sector, and is home to high-value energy and natural resources industries whose growth has fueled large gains in GSP and productivity. Since 2002, Alaska has added more than thousands of jobs in oil and gas extraction, metal ore mining and related support activities, the seafood products industry and in new management, science and technical consulting.

Related: Is Your State Entrepreneur Friendly?


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U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Praxis Strategy Group, June 20, 2011

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