CNBC scores Virginia ‘Top State for Business’
In a rebound from recent years, Virginia edged out Texas as the nation’s top state for business in CNBC’s annual rankings released Wednesday.
CNBC’s 2019 America’s Top States for Business study cited Virginia’s landing of Amazon’s $5 billion HQ2 project in Arlington and Alexandria as a leading factor in the decision. The largest economic development project in Virginia history, Amazon’s HQ2 East Coast headquarters will employ 25,000 workers within the next decade.
“By the numbers, Virginia is not only the best state for Amazon; it is America’s Top State for Business,” CNBC wrote in an article announcing Virginia’s top ranking. “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.”
Virginia has secured more than $18.5 billion in statewide capital investment and seen 50,000 new jobs added since 2018, and has topped CNBC’s annual list four times. The last time Virginia was ranked No. 1 was in 2011, and the state sank to 13th place in 2016, climbing back up to fourth in last year’s rankings. Virginia scored 1,610 out of 2,500 possible points in CNBC’s 2019 Top States for Business study, compared to 1,589 for Texas, which took second place. Virginia and Texas are tied as the Top States report's all-time winners, with four wins each since CNBC began the annual study in 2007.
“I am proud to bring the title of America’s top state for business back to Virginia,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement. “One of my primary goals has been to make Virginia the No. 1 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.”
Victor Hoskins, who was recently named president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, was a key negotiator last year in landing Amazon HQ2 in his role as director of Arlington County Economic Development. “Over the past decade Virginia has worked toward being a great place for all businesses to thrive,” Hoskins said in a statement released Tuesday. “The consistent local and state investment in education, the outstanding commitment of the state to workforce training, and the consistent corporate tax environment of the last 30-plus years has really created a very strong pro-business environment that is matched at the local level. One of the things that’s very unique about the state of Virginia is that there’s an extremely strong collaboration between the state, regional and local entities and I think that makes a huge difference.”
CNBC bases its rankings on 64 metrics in 10 categories, including workforce, education, quality of life, access to capital, business friendliness and cost of living. Virginia scored first in workforce, which is based on the education levels and concentration of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) training among each state’s workers, as well as union membership and right-to-work laws. The state also topped the education category, which takes into account the number of higher education institutions in each state as well as other factors such as K-12 test scores, class sizes and education spending.
Rendering courtesy Arlington County.