Oct 29, 2012
Bill McMeekin
Bill McMeekin
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Top States for Business: Infrastructure, Skilled Workers Tilt the Scales

UPS Worldport

The site location consultants have spoken and as they did in 2011, they’ve said Texas is at the lead among the Top States for Doing Business.

Area Development magazine’s annual survey of site selectors ranks states in 14 categories – from labor climate to business costs to infrastructure – and scores them based on the number of times they are named as a “top-5″ choice.

The top 10 overall:

1.  Texas
2.  South Carolina
3.  Georgia
4.  Alabama
5.  North Carolina
6.  Louisiana
7.  Tennessee
8.  Indiana
9.  Mississippi
10. Oklahoma

Two major themes are emerging in the fledgling revival of the U.S. manufacturing sector: availability of a skilled labor pool and the right transportation infrastructure to serve supply chains and finished product.

The labor climate and labor cost rankings tilt decidedly to Right to Work states in the Southeast and Southwest, with Georgia, the Carolinas and Alabama on the lead lap.

While the rankings for workforce development programs also skewed Southern (Georgia and South Carolina are leaders there), the top five states for availability of skilled workers includes Michigan, Ohio and California, not normally known for either lower labor costs or “business friendly” (read nonunion) labor environments.

Transportation and infrastructure are becoming increasingly important components of the site selection process, whether for manufacturing, distribution or corporate headquarters. Transportation costs, energy costs and the ability to get people and product to places the quickest and the cheapest are major considerations in location investment decisions.

The top states  for infrastrcutre and global access offer a number of logistics assets and advantages.

Tennessee, which tops the list, not only has a highway and location advantage, but also is home to FedEx’s global logistics hub in Memphis.  Georgia, South Carolina and Texas have major port and intermodal facilities in their portfolio. Illinois can move goods by water from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississppi River and boasts an integrated rail and highway system and the world’s busiest airport in Chicago O’Hare.

At the International Economic Development Council conference in Houston earlier this month, highly respected site selection consultant Mark Sweeney noted how transportation assets are figuring more closely into even headquarters locations. Major headquarters operations are increasingly looking for proximity to airports that offer nonstop international flights, a relatively small pool of facilities that leans heavily to megalopolis metros.

“It’s all about passenger air service in defining a corporate headquarters search,” Sweeney said.

How does your community stack up in transportation, infrastructure, skilled labor pool and workforce development? Do you see these as key drivers of economic development in your community or are other factors equally or more important? Share your thoughts.


So, are the best states for doing business, the states adding the jobs. Yes and no. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statisitics has released new stats on state and regional employment.

Texas and California are the big gainers in terms of raw numbers, each adding 262,000 jobs between September 2011 and September 2012. North Dakota (5.6) and Kentucky (2.6) were the tops in percentage gains.

Here’s how some of the top states for doing business did in adding jobs over the last 12 months:

  • Texas (+262,000)
  • South Carolina (+29,300)
  • Georgia (+56,300)
  • North Carolina (+31,500)
  • Louisiana (+23,100)
  • Tennessee (+20,400)
  • Indiana (+65,100)
  • Oklahoma (+39,600)



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