These Are America's Top States for Business in 2019

The war between the states for business and jobs has never been more intense, with states paying staggering amounts of taxpayer dollars to woo companies. The prizes are big — including Amazon’s promised $5 billion HQ2 project, and Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn’s $10 billion U.S. manufacturing complex. By the numbers, some states are better positioned than others to compete for projects like these, and for the thousands of other smaller developments up for grabs each year. 

The CNBC America’s Top States for Business study, conducted every year since 2007, ranks all 50 states for business competitiveness using more than 60 metrics in 10 categories including Workforce, Economy, Quality of Life, and Cost of Doing Business. 

You can see where every state ranks here. For 2019 these 10 states come out on top. 

10. Ohio 

2019 Score: 1,467 out of 2,500 points 

Looking to get your products to market and your people on the move? Look to the Buckeye State, which offers one of the most highly developed infrastructures in the nation. From key ports on the Great Lakes and the Ohio River to major airports in Cleveland and Columbus, and nearly 140 million people in the U.S. within a day’s drive, all roads really do lead here. 

Best categories: Infrastructure (No. 4), Cost of Doing Business (No. 8), Education (No. 11)

Worst categories: Quality of Life (No. 34), Business Friendliness (No. 32), Economy (No. 30)

Economic growth (2018): 1.8%

Unemployment (May 2019): 4.1% 

9. Colorado 

2019 Score: 1,486 out of 2,500 points 

For truly outstanding quality of life, head for the Rockies. Coloradans are healthy, there is plenty to do, and the state is tolerant and inclusive. Those are great selling points to companies looking to attract skilled workers. It apparently is paying off. Colorado has one of the best educated workforces in the country at a time when skilled workers are in short supply nationally. 

Best categories: Quality of Life (No. 7), Technology & Innovation (No. 7), Workforce (No. 8)

Worst categories: Cost of Doing Business (No. 37), Infrastructure (No. 35), Cost of Living (No. 34)

Economic growth (2018): 3.5%

Unemployment (May 2019): 3.2% 

8. Nebraska 

2019 Score: 1,503 out of 2,500 points 

No one has ever accused Nebraska of being flashy, but this state gets it done. It is hard to find a more stable state, particularly when it comes to the economy. The housing market is among the healthiest in the nation, all things considered. Price appreciation is modest but reliable, keeping homes affordable and mortgage defaults in check. Low utility prices and robust state incentives make doing business here a bargain. 

Best categories: Cost of Doing Business (No. 5), Education (No. 6), Economy (No. 9)

Worst categories: Access to Capital (No. 41), Technology & Innovation (No. 33), Workforce (No. 26)

Economic growth (2018): 1.5%

Unemployment (May 2019): 3.0% 

7. Minnesota 

2019 Score: 1,506 out of 2,500 points 

The term they use here is “Minnesota nice,” and it actually shows up in the numbers. Minnesota is one of America’s best places to live in terms of low crime, health and inclusiveness. Yes, the winters can be incredibly cold, but Minnesotans are among the best anywhere at adapting — and doing so nicely. 

Best categories: Quality of Life (No. 3), Education (No. 3), Technology & Innovation (No, 7)

Worst categories: Cost of Doing Business (No. 39), Cost of Living (No. 31), Business Friendliness (No. 28)

Economic growth (2018): 2.2%

Unemployment (May 2019): 3.3% 

6. Georgia 

2019 Score: 1,510 out of 2,500 points 

The home of the nation’s busiest airport — Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International — is a leader in other areas of infrastructure as well. Georgia is home to two important deepwater ports at Savannah and Brunswick, the rail network is extensive, and roads and bridges — while congested — are well maintained. The state’s economy has cooled considerably, but Georgia is still a magnet for capital investment. 

Best categories: Infrastructure (No. 5), Access to Capital (No. 10), Workforce (No. 11)

Worst categories: Cost of Doing Business (No. 28), Quality of Life (No. 25), Education (No. 23)

Economic growth (2018): 2.6%

Unemployment (May 2019): 3.8% 

5. Washington 

2019 Score: 1,558 out of 2,500 points 

If you use a computer, shop online or travel, there is a good chance your life is touched by the state that is home to Amazon, Microsoft, Expedia and Boeing’s manufacturing operations. Little wonder that Washington’s economy is consistently the fastest growing in the nation. Washingtonians are also among the most prolific when it comes to U.S. patents, with more than 7,400 issued to Washington residents and entities in 2018 alone. 

Best categories: Technology & Innovation (No. 2), Workforce (No. 3), Economy (No. 5)

Worst categories: Infrastructure (No. 39), Cost of Living (No. 38), Business Friendliness (No. 35)

Economic growth (2018): 5.7%

Unemployment (May 2019): 4.7% 

4. Utah 

2019 Score: 1,573 out of 2,500 points 

Led by the burgeoning technology sector in the region known as Silicon Slopes and by a more recent surge in manufacturing, Utah turned in the second best economic growth in the nation last year. State finances are pristine, with a top-notch credit rating and manageable pension obligations. It also does not hurt that this is a great place to live. 

Best categories: Economy (No. 3), Quality of Life (No. 9), Business Friendliness (No. 13)

Worst categories: Cost of Living (No. 25), Technology (No. 21), Education (No. 20)

Economic growth (2018): 4.3%

Unemployment (May 2019): 2.9% 

3. North Carolina 

2019 Score: 1,586 out of 2,500 points 

While economic growth here pales in comparison to Washington and Utah, no state’s economy is on more solid ground than the Tar Heel state. The housing market is healthy and state finances are sound. The state attracted some $2.6 billion in venture capital in 2018, the 6th highest figure in the nation. It is also attracting skilled workers, who are moving to North Carolina in droves. 

Best categories: Economy (No. 1), Access to Capital (No. 6), Workforce (No. 7)

Worst categories: Quality of Life (No. 35), Cost of Doing Business (No. 21), Education (No. 21)

Economic growth (2018): 2.9%

Unemployment (May 2019): 4.1% 

2. Texas 

2019 Score: 1,589 out of 2,500 points 

No state can claim more consistent, dominating performance than Texas. It has never finished outside the top five in the Top States rankings, and notched first place finishes in 2008, 2010, 2012, and last year. The state’s economy is big and diverse, but still not diverse enough to surmount the decline in energy prices that kept the state from a repeat win this year. Texas is a magnet for skilled employees who come to join the state’s large and productive workforce. In essence, it is hard to imagine a conversation on state competitiveness that does not include the Lone Star State. 

Best categories: Access to Capital (No. 3), Workforce (No. 4), Economy (No. 4)

Worst categories: Education (No. 39), Quality of Life (No. 37), Cost of Doing Business (No. 19)

Economic growth (2018): 3.2%

Unemployment (May 2019): 3.5% 

1. Virginia 

2019 Score: 1,610 out of 2,500 points 

When Amazon announced late last year that it had chosen Arlington, Virginia, as the home for part of its new, $5 billion second headquarters, it did not reach the decision haphazardly. By the numbers, Virginia is not only the best state for Amazon; it is America’s Top State for Business. It is Virginia’s fourth win, having previously taken the title in 2007, 2009 and 2011. The state has the nation’s best workforce, including the fourth-highest concentration of science, technology, education and math (STEM) workers. Strong school test scores, small class sizes and a wealth of colleges and universities make Virginia’s education system the best in the nation. And with Virginia Tech University announcing plans to build a new campus adjacent to Amazon’s HQ2 focused on innovation, things could get even better. 

Best categories: Workforce (No. 1), Education (No. 1 – tied with Massachusetts), Business Friendliness (No. 3)

Worst categories: Cost of Doing Business (No. 35), Cost of Living (No. 32), Quality of Life (No. 17)

Economic growth (2018): 2.8%

Unemployment (May 2019): 3.0%

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