Not All States Are Created Equal

It’s time to set up shop for your new business, but you’re not sure where to focus your efforts when it comes to location. If you’ve created a new brand of parka that will protect the wearer from sub-zero temperatures, then Arizona is probably not going to be your best option. However, if your new business venture would likely succeed pretty much anywhere, then you may be wondering which state is the most suitable.

According to CNBC’s recent and fourth annual “America’s Top States for Business 2010” rankings, Texas reclaims its 2008 title from Virginia as the overall winner.  The study measures all 50 states on 40 different metrics across 10 key areas of competitiveness. States receive points based on their rankings in each category. Categories are weighted based on how frequently states use them as selling points to attract business.

This year’s categories include:

  • Cost of Doing Business (450 points)
  • Workforce (350 points)
  • Quality of Life (350 points)
  • Economy (314 points)
  • Transportation & Infrastructure (300 points)
  • Technology & Innovation (250 points)
  • Education (175 points)
  • Business Friendliness (175 points)
  • Access to Capital (50 points)
  • Cost of Living (25 points)

As the 15th largest economy in the world, Texas scored the most overall points in 2010 for the second time since the study began. To secure the top spot, it took first place in both the Economy and Transportation categories and ranked among the top ten on a number of other key fronts, including Cost of Living, Technology and Innovation, and Access to Capital.

Virginia ranked second overall this year, having once again ceded its number-one position to Texas.  The two states have been jockeying back and forth in a head-to-head contest for bragging rights every year since the study began four years ago, now each claiming two overall wins apiece.  Top-ten category rankings for Virginia in 2010 included Workforce, Business Friendliness and Access to Capital. Rounding out the top five states overall are Colorado, North Carolina and Massachusetts, in that order.

While the CNBC study is certainly a useful tool for figuring out where your greatest chances for starting a successful business enterprise of your own might be, the who, what, when and how may be every bit, if not more important. For instance, if you have helpful business contacts in one location, then that may be an obvious place to start. Or if you are more familiar with one state than another, you may just have a boost above any competition that is new to the area, which can also make all the difference.

If you think CNBC’s 2010 survey would be a helpful reference tool as you search for a home base or a new location for your business, don’t assume that a cursory glance will tell you the whole story.  As is the case with most studies of this kind, it becomes more complicated and oftentimes more informative the further you drill down.  Take a few minutes to examine each category and what it entails.  You’re likely to find there are a number of factors that you may not have considered in your search just yet that could really have an impact on your overall business plan.

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