Top States For Business 2011

Tough Times Means Taking Top States For Business To The Next Level

Welcome to our fifth annual look at the states that put it all together for business. And in a year where the states are under more financial stress than ever, making it to the top is a huge accomplishment

If we do say so ourselves, our annual ranking of America’s Top States for Business has become a part of the national conversation when it comes to competitiveness.

America's Top States for Business - A CNBC Special Report Preview

In 2010, we found ourselves mentioned in campaign ads, and each year, more state officials call CNBC pumping us for information they might be able to use to improve their standing.

The Alaska Chamber of Commerce even invited me to a luncheon in Anchorage in October to explain why the state seems to finish last each year. I went, and everyone was incredibly gracious—especially considering the fact that we keep ranking Alaska last.

If we gave points for bravery, or a willingness to confront the issues head on, Alaska would surely move up in the rankings. Alas, we don’t, but we salute the effort. And we’re hoping maybe Hawaii, which also tends to do poorly overall year after year, decides it needs some pointers as well.

Which brings me to 2011—our fifth annual study, and, we hope, our most comprehensive yet. Look for it here and on CNBC TV Tuesday, June 28, starting with" Squawk Box". As in Top States I-IV, we’ll roll out this year’s rankings with the usual flourish.

We regularly adjust our ten categories and criteria to reflect the shifting standards of competitiveness.

As in previous years, we measure the states based on the criteria they use to sell themselves. And in this economy, we've found the states have changed their sales pitches to business.

This year's study also takes into account that historic fiscal crisis, which has left all but a handful of states with shortfalls in their budgets.

For the first time since we launched this study in 2007, we're considering state budget gaps among the 43 metrics that go into our rankings.

Would you want to do business in a state that can’t afford adequate job-training programs, business incentives or quality education? We've made certain those ingredients are well-represented in the mix.

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  • CNBC's Top States 2010: Complete Coverage
  • This year offers some of the highest quality data since we started top states in 2007. That is because we have results from the 2010 U.S. Census, which measures far more than just population. The Census Bureau is constantly offering new and updated economic data, but the decennial survey offers the richest data dump of all. We wait with open arms.

    So get ready for the top-five countdown on June 28.  And take another look at the rankings from our first four studies if you’re keeping score at home.