If there is a top state for business in our annual study, there must be a bottom state. For 2012, that dubious distinction goes toRhode Island— for the second year in a row.
In fact, Rhode Island didn’t just finish last in our rankings. With just 844 out of 2,500 possible points, the Ocean State was pretty much under water.
In addition to ranking 50th overall, Rhode Island finished at the bottom for Transportation, 49th in both Business Friendliness and Economy, 46th for Workforceand 45th for Cost of Doing Business.
Among the critics of Rhode Island’s business climate is former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, whose video game company, 38 Studios, went bankrupt in June despite a $75 million loan guarantee by the state to lure the firm there.
Schilling and Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who opposed the loan guarantees as a candidate for the post, clashed in a highly publicized disagreement over the firm's financial health.
Regardless of whether Schilling’s company is the sign of larger problems in Rhode Island, the past several years have been difficult for the state.
Hit hard by the recession, unemployment in Rhode Island was the second worst in the nation at 11 percent in May. The city of Central Falls is in bankruptcy court; Woonsocket and Providence are dangerously close.
Economic growth in the state resumed last year, but just barely. Gross domestic product rose 0.8 percent, according to the Commerce Department. That compares with growth rates of 2 percent in neighboring Connecticut and 2.2 percent in Massachusetts.
In our 2012 Top States for Businessrankings, Rhode Island showed only a handful of bright spots. The state made it into the top half in Quality of Lifeand Education, finishing 23rd in both categories.
And it moved into the top 10 for Access to Capital, surging from 35th last year, as venture capital dollars began flowing into the state.