Va. edges up to No. 2 in CNBC poll
Cited once more for its educational prowess, Virginia moved from third place last year to second place this year in CNBC’s annual Top States for Business rankings. Our neighbor to the south, North Carolina, won the top spot for a second year in a row.
“Virginia is our most decorated state, a five-time winner,” the network said in July, “but you’ll pay dearly for doing business here, one reason Virginia comes up just short this year.”
Ranking second place overall and No. 1 in education is not bad, although the state’s ranking as No. 34 in cost of doing business, a nine-place decline from 2022, is an area that could use some improvement.
In 2022, the state was dinged for its cost of living, receiving a D+ grade, and this year, Virginia improved to a C+ grade.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin has noted that the commonwealth’s high cost of living and doing business, especially in Northern Virginia and other urban sectors, is a major focus for his administration, offering tax cuts as a salve. Another administration focus is getting more industrial sites shovel-ready, to help prepare land for megaprojects like Lego Group’s $1 billion manufacturing plant in Chesterfield County, which broke ground in April.
A major reason Virginia doesn’t have as many big deals like this, compared with North Carolina and other Southern states, is because the state hasn’t invested nearly as much money in getting large land tracts ready for construction. Youngkin proposed $450 million in this year’s budget for site preparation, but as of mid-July, Senate Democrats and House Republicans refused to budge on their priorities and pass an amended budget.
CNBC notes that political winds make a difference in its rankings, including reproductive rights among its Top State metrics this year under the label “life, health and inclusion.” Virginia placed No. 16 in the category, and North Carolina, which this year passed a ban on abortions after 12 weeks, ranked No. 34. Virginia’s future CNBC rankings, as well as its overall business friendliness, will be in play this fall, as all 140 state legislative seats are up for election. Youngkin’s $1 billion tax cut priority and other goals, including limiting abortion access, will either pass easily through a GOP-led legislature or continue to hit Democrats’ brick wall.
In any case, Virginia is still competitive in attracting companies and, with more shovel-ready land, is likely to improve its draw for megaprojects.