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North Carolina: America’s Top State for Business in 2023

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In a time when businesses are striving to find skilled workers and navigate a challenging economy, one state stands out as the leader in meeting their needs: North Carolina. For the second year in a row, North Carolina has been crowned as America’s Top State for Business in CNBC’s annual competitiveness study. This achievement is a testament to the state’s world-class workforce and its booming economy.

North Carolina’s success in the business realm is not a recent phenomenon. The state has been on an upward trajectory since the pandemic, and it shows no signs of slowing down. In 2023 alone, North Carolina has secured several major economic development wins, from significant investments by companies like Bosch and ProKidney to the establishment of new manufacturing and production facilities. These victories build upon the state’s successes from the previous year, including VinFast’s decision to build its first North American plant in North Carolina and Wolfspeed’s expansion of its semiconductor operations.

One of the key factors contributing to North Carolina’s top ranking is its exceptional workforce. The state excels in attracting and retaining talent across a wide range of industries, thanks in part to its renowned universities and competitive community college system. The Raleigh-Durham area, in particular, benefits from the presence of internationally recognized educational institutions that drive economic growth. Additionally, North Carolina’s commitment to career education and worker training programs has yielded impressive results, with over 89% of program participants finding employment within six months.

North Carolina’s robust workforce plays a significant role in fueling its economy, which ranks third in the CNBC study. With a gross domestic product (GDP) of $560 billion and a growth rate of 3.2% in the previous year, the state’s economy remains strong. Furthermore, North Carolina’s solid state finances, reflected by its top-notch debt rating from Moody’s, and its housing market’s ability to handle the influx of new residents contribute to its overall competitiveness.

North Carolina’s commitment to technology and innovation is another factor that sets it apart. The state ranks sixth in the Technology & Innovation category, demonstrating its dedication to fostering a dynamic business environment. Moreover, North Carolina’s ability to attract capital is noteworthy, earning it the sixth spot in the Access to Capital category. These strengths make it an attractive destination for businesses looking to leverage technology and secure funding for their ventures.

While North Carolina’s achievements in business are impressive, the state faces certain challenges and tensions. In education, it ranks seventh, but a state of emergency has been declared due to concerns about the public education system. Political disagreements have emerged regarding expanding vouchers and charter schools, potentially diverting critical funding from public education. Additionally, recent legislative actions related to abortion and discrimination have negatively impacted the state’s ranking in the Life, Health & Inclusion category.

CNBC’s study evaluates all 50 states across ten categories, assigning weights based on the criteria states use to promote themselves to businesses. North Carolina earned a total of 1,628 points out of a possible 2,500, securing its position as the top state for business in 2023. The categories and point totals are as follows:

  • Workforce: 400 points (16%)
  • Infrastructure: 390 points (15.6%)
  • Economy: 360 points (14.4%)
  • Life, Health & Inclusion: 350 points (14%)
  • Cost of Doing Business: 290 points (11.6%)
  • Technology & Innovation: 270 points (10.8%)
  • Business Friendliness: 215 points (8.6%)
  • Education: 125 points (5%)
  • Access to Capital: 50 points (2%)
  • Cost of Living: 50 points (2%)

While North Carolina claimed the top spot, several other states showcased their strengths in the CNBC study. Virginia secured the runner-up position, excelling in education but facing challenges due to high costs. Tennessee ranked third, particularly strong in infrastructure but struggling in the Life, Health & Inclusion category. Georgia came in fourth, boasting excellent infrastructure but facing a tough legal climate for business. Minnesota rounded out the top five, leading in Life, Health & Inclusion but hindered by high taxes and low incentives for businesses.

On the other end of the spectrum, Alaska ranked last due to its struggling economy, poor infrastructure, education, and limited access to capital. Other states at the bottom of the list included Louisiana, Mississippi, Hawaii, and West Virginia, each facing specific challenges that impacted their business competitiveness.

North Carolina’s repeated recognition as America’s Top State for Business in 2023 is a testament to the state’s remarkable workforce, thriving economy, and commitment to technology and innovation. Despite challenges in education and political tensions, North Carolina remains an attractive destination for businesses seeking growth and success. With its world-class workforce and a business-friendly environment, North Carolina continues to pave the way for economic prosperity and innovation.

First reported by CNBC.

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