Virginia leads national ranking as top state for business

Virginia flag flying at James Madison University in April 2018
By  | 

RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) — A national study has ranked Virginia as the top state for business.

According to CNBC, Virginia came in at number one for the fourth time in the 13-year history of its America's Top States for Business ranking. The Commonwealth previously hit the top spot in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

Out of a total possible 2,500 points, Virginia topped the list with 1,610.

According to a release, Virginia has the nation's best workforce, including the fourth-highest concentration of science, technology, education and math workers, as well as strong school test scores, small class sizes and numerous colleges and universities putting the education system among the best in the country.

"Virginia has come back in a big way by focusing on what businesses prize most these days: workforce," said CNBC Special Correspondent Scott Cohn on Squawk Box on Wednesday morning. "The state is also cutting red tape. It doesn't hurt that the U.S. defense budget is rising. Military spending accounts for a larger portion of the economy in Virginia than in any other state."

The annual analysis takes a look at an economic snapshot of each state, including employment, budget, tax, and housing data, and this year's report also includes information on Amazon's $2.5 billion second headquarters, which will be built in Arlington.

There are ten broad categories used for the ranking: cost of doing business, workforce, quality of life, economy, infrastructure, technology and innovation, education, business friendliness, access to capital, and cost of living. Under these categories, there are 64 metrics considered.

Virginia came in at number one in the country for workforce and education and was also in the top ten for business friendliness. The lowest scores for the Commonwealth were cost of doing business (35th in the country) and cost of living (32nd).

The top five states for business in the country also include Texas, North Carolina, Utah and Washington.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam also announced the ranking on Wednesday and spoke with Cohn on his show about it.

"I am proud to bring the title of America's top state for business back to Virginia," he said. "One of my primary goals has been to make Virginia the number one place to do business and to do it in a way that benefits all Virginians and every region of the Commonwealth. This recognition underscores our work to build an inclusive and diversified economy, invest in our workforce and create quality jobs, and is proof that companies of many different sizes and industries can find a home in Virginia."

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox also reacted to the news about the ranking.

"There's no secret behind Virginia's climb to the top of the rankings this year," he said. "Our highly-educated workforce, our business-friendly regulatory environment, low taxes and our ongoing commitment to education make our Commonwealth a great place for any business, from a mom-and-pop startup to the Fortune 500."

Since January 2018, more than $18.5 billion in statewide capital investment has been secured and 50,000 jobs were created.

To view the entire ranking list, click here.