Virginia leads national ranking as top state for business

Virginia flag flying at James Madison University in April 2018
Virginia flag flying at James Madison University in April 2018(WHSV)
Published: Jul. 10, 2019 at 4:16 PM EDT
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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



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                    Contact: Amy Hager
July 10,2019                                                                                                                                


PRESS RELEASE: Virginia Reclaims Position as Best State for Business

In a year marked by historic economic development deals Virginia is recognized as number one in CNBC’s 2019 ranking of America’s Top States for Business.

“Virginia has long been blessed by a strong economy and we are proud to be recognized, once again, as the best state for business,” said Virginia Chamber President & CEO Barry DuVal. “In collaboration with our strategic partners, elected officials, and business leaders from around the state, we have worked continuously to improve Virginia’s economic climate and our efforts have paid off. This is a team win. The Virginia Chamber and our partners remain committed to improving the business climate of the Commonwealth through the implementation of Blueprint Virginia 2025.”

Blueprint Virginia 2025  is a comprehensive initiative that provides business leadership, direction, and long-range economic planning for Virginia. During 2017, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce engaged business and community leaders from around the Commonwealth to build an action plan for strengthening Virginia’s economic competitiveness and getting Virginia back to the top of business climate rankings. More than 6,000 leaders across the state participated in the development of Blueprint Virginia 2025 and the plan has been endorsed by more than 90 organizations with a focus on economic development.

CNBC’s methodology incorporated more than 60 metrics across 10 categories. Not only was Virginia ranked number one overall but also ranked as the top state in the workforce and education categories. The newly located HQ2 project for Amazon in Arlington, VA, was noted as “a key factor in Virginia’s biggest economic development win in recent memory.”

“While, we are grateful for this recognition, there is still much work to be done to sustain this position in an increasingly competitive landscape,” said DuVal. “CNBC’s competitiveness rankings continue to provide focus on areas that need further improvement, such as reducing the cost of doing business.” 

The full CNBC rankings can be found here.




Commonwealth of Virginia

Office of Governor Ralph S. Northam





Date: July 10, 2019



Office of the Governor

Contact: Alena Yarmosky



Virginia Reclaims “Top State for Business” Title in CNBC Ranking


RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that CNBC has named Virginia America’s “Top State for Business” in 2019. CNBC unveiled Virginia as the top state for business this morning during a live broadcast from Shenandoah River State Park, and Governor Northam was on location to discuss the announcement. The top ranking is determined by CNBC following an extensive study of all 50 states based on 64 metrics in 10 categories of competitiveness. Virginia is tied with Texas for most years named top state for business by CNBC, with wins in 2007, 2009, 2011, and now 2019.


“I am proud to bring the title of America’s top state for business back to Virginia,” said Governor Northam. “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.”


Since Governor Northam took office in January 2018, the Commonwealth has secured more than $18.5 billion in statewide capital investment and created 50,000 new jobs. Governor Northam has announced $2.5 billion in new capital investment in Virginia’s distressed communities, including significant projects with Volvo and Microsoft. Virginia has attracted major investments from leading companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Micron, and many other prominent businesses are choosing to deepen their roots in the Commonwealth.  


In its 2019 ranking, CNBC highlights Virginia’s highly educated workforce, strong economic growth, and stable business climate. The study also gives Virginia top scores for education, access to capital, and technology and innovation.


CNBC debuted its Top States for Business ranking in 2007. Information about the methodology used by CNBC to determine America’s Top States for Business in 2019 is available here.


Read more about Virginia’s business ranking here. Watch Governor Northam discuss how Virginia reclaimed the title of Top State for Business in this video.


Full Release



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