NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday at the Port of Virginia in Norfolk that Virginia has been named the “Top State for Business” by CNBC.
“CNBC confirmed to the world what we have known for a long time, Virginia is the top state for business again this year,” Northam said. ” … could not [be] prouder of what this says about the inclusive, commonsense policies that we put in place and how they encourage business investment.”
CNBC ranked the states based on 85 metrics in 10 categories, looking at things such as cost of doing business, strength of the workforce and infrastructure. CNBC also factored in a category for “life, health and inclusion,” where Virginia ranked 11th overall.
“Our study is not an opinion survey,” CNBC said. “We use data from a variety of sources to measure the states’ performance. Under our methodology, states can earn a maximum of 2,500 points. The states with the most are America’s Top States for Business.”
North Carolina finished just behind Virginia at No. 2, followed by Utah, Texas and Tennessee.
It’s the second straight time Virginia has won the distinction and fifth since the study began in 2007. (CNBC didn’t name a top state in 2020 due to the pandemic).
“Virginia pulls off the repeat performance despite a vastly altered competitive landscape, a testament to the resilience of the state’s business climate,” CNBC wrote. “… Going into the pandemic and coming out of it, Virginia’s greatest strength has been its ability to nurture and retain talent. Public schools perform well in terms of test scores, and a world-class higher education system is reliably funded.”
“Because behind every ribbon-cutting are the workers. The people who want to take care of their families and lead good lives,” Northam said, standing with state leaders and the leader of the Longshoremen at the port.
“You can’t have strong businesses without strong workers, so we raised the minimum wage, passed sick leave,” said state Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth).
Virginia did not rank first in any of the 10 categories but did rank second in education.
“That is why I am proud of this General Assembly and this administration. We have invested in education from pre-K to higher ed, and all of our children deserve the support to succeed,” said state Sen. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton).
Virginia made a strong comeback in inclusiveness, which was not a Virginia strength in 2018. During the news conference Tuesday, the governor and his supporters misspoke when talking about winning three years in a row. Due to the pandemic and obvious issues in all states, CNBC did not have the rankings in 2020. Texas won in 2018. Virginia in 2019 and 2021.
CNBC noted improvements in Virginia’s inclusiveness embracing diversity.
We asked about that.
“Andy [Fox] asked about legalizing marijuana, criminal justice reform, ending the death penalty in Virginia, all these things lead to the inclusiveness for Virginia being and inclusive, welcoming commonwealth,” Northam said.
And what about social equity and the legalization of recreational marijuana in Virginia July 1?
“We accelerated the time because we knew white people and Black people used marijuana at the same rate, but Black Virginians rate three times higher in arrests than what white people were,” Northam said.
In response to the state’s ranking, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce issued a statement saying it was proud of the distinction, but it doesn’t mean the state should get “complacent.”
“Today’s ranking reaffirms what we already knew – Virginia is the best state for business. The ranking reflects our long standing investments in workforce training and our robust education system, while also recognizing the increasingly inclusive nature of the Commonwealth. This ranking validates our approach to maintain Virginia’s standing as the top state for business through long-term planning efforts and targeted policy recommendations as part of Blueprint Virginia.
“Although we are proud of this distinction, it is important for us to not get complacent. It is going to take a growth mindset and vigilance to maintain our status as the top state for business. The ranking also highlighted targeted areas for improvement. In December, the Virginia Chamber will release the Commonwealth’s next statewide strategic plan, Blueprint Virginia 2030, and through this initiative we will provide Virginia’s elected officials with a policy roadmap to support our return as the best state for business in the years to come.
“Continued growth of Virginia’s economy, support of our longstanding investments in workforce, education, and promotion of greater equity and inclusion will serve as the foundational components for the road ahead. The Virginia Chamber will continue to work for what is right for Virginia’s businesses and its workers to keep our economy strong.”
The announcement came a day after Northam stopped in Virginia Beach to announce a proposal to spend $353 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding to help Virginia’s small businesses.
Northam is proposing a $250 million investment in the Rebuild VA economic recovery grand program, $50 million for Virginia Tourism Corporation initiatives and $53 million for additional small business aid, which includes the Industrial Revitalization Fund and Virginia Main Street program.