Interviewing two governors in the run-up to publishing this issue each year is normal. It’s the issue recognizing the chief executives of the states with the highest number of capital investment projects the previous year — total and per capita. Governors Greg Abbott of Texas (total projects) and Mike DeWine of Ohio (per capita) claim the two Governor’s Cups again this year, as you will learn about in the cover story.
Two more governors made time for an interview in February. A one-on-one with Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear appears in the Commonwealth’s 2021 Economic Development Guide, a publication of our Custom Content division being published concurrently with this issue. And my home state governor, Ned Lamont of Connecticut, weighs in candidly in this issue on the importance of turning around a business-climate perception that he admits needs work.
Four states. Four sets of challenges unique to their jurisdictions. Four examples of solid leadership as the pandemic unfolded in 2020. I also found in these interviews four perspectives on a common topic: how to prepare their states for their post-pandemic economies, and how to assist their businesses in preparing for the same. Without my prompting, each of the governors alluded to a silver lining they were aware of in their states’ experience of the pandemic, which must be refreshing for them after many months of daily COVID-19 briefings, going over the latest casualty numbers and vaccination distribution strategies.
Similar leadership is no doubt in place in the Top Metros and Top Micropolitans recognized in this issue for their economic development success in 2020 on a local level. In some respects, they’re more in the weeds of business recovery efforts than the governor, given the effects of the pandemic on commerce their locality may be closely linked to.
We were relieved to see in our 2020 facility announcement numbers — the basis for the rankings in this issue — relatively little change in areas’ average new projects over the past several years. Several states recorded record investment, in fact, for the last quarter or for the whole calendar year. Most industrial operations barely missed a beat in 2020 and will continue operations this year as normal. I expect that’s why project numbers didn’t plummet last year.
Capital investment is a long-term play, leaders of those operations realize. Black swans like COVID-19 move on. More important to location decision-makers, therefore, is whether the locations they are considering will contribute to their long-term success. That means fiscal stability and predictability, and location leadership that can find the silver linings and lead with an eye to prosperity down the road.
Till next time,
Mark Arend, Editor in Chief