he U.S. Southeast, Midwest and Southwest are about to see even more capital investment than these booming regions are used to. Participants in our recent reader survey identified these regions, in that order, as the destinations where they plan new or expanded facilities in the next few years. These regions also are where nearly all the Top 10 states in our annual Business Climate Ranking are located.
Speaking of which, congratulations to Virginia for unseating two of its most formidable competitors to claim first place. For the past decade or more, Georgia and North Carolina have had a lock on winning the Top Business Climate competition. But Virginia’s year has come. Governor Glenn Youngkin shares with me his take on the Commonwealth’s strong performance over the past year in the Cover Story. Much of it has to do with understanding the needs of business and industry (his entire career till now has been in the private sector) and several initiatives to keep high school and college students from leaving the state after graduating. Virginia’s infrastructure, higher education resources and pro-business environment play key roles too.
Part of the index that determines the Business Climate Ranking is a survey of site selectors who are asked to identify the states they consider to be the best for investment. We also invite them to comment on why. A list of “What Matters Most” appears in the Cover Story that’s compiled from respondents’ choices made on a drop-down menu of location criteria. But comments they provide in their own words reveal what they’re looking for in state business climates in late 2022.
Following are three respondents’ unedited takes on what makes for a competitive business climate:
• “Low taxes, high growth/in-migration, right-to-work legislation, robust incentives, protection of women’s reproductive rights.”
• “Land development initiatives, utility cost strategies, responsiveness, creativity, workforce access and proven ability to execute.”
• “General business friendliness, ease of working with state agencies, state agencies and municipalities working together.”
Another is looking for value received for its business taxes, which is hard to disagree with. What matters most to your team?
My conversation with Governor Youngkin covered several areas not written about in the Cover Story. One was the importance he places on interaction with executives of companies establishing or expanding operations in Virginia. Sometimes, he told me, those conversations are simply about thanking the company for choosing Virginia. That goes a long way toward business retention, which is a huge part of economic development. If your state does that as well as or better than it does attracting new investment, chances are its business climate is pretty solid.
Till next time,
Mark Arend, Editor in Chief