Top States for Business

Corporations want your skills but care less about your quality of life, cost of living

Key Points
  • Workforce tops the list for firms when it comes to operating or expanding in a new location, according to a CNBC Global CFO Council survey, conducted for the America's Top States for Business study.
  • Quality of life, education and cost of living were among the least important factors for corporations.
  • A vast majority of companies said they are presently struggling to fill skilled positions.
Countdown to CNBC's Top States for Business

From business friendliness to education, the exclusive CNBC 2018 America's Top States for Business study crunches the numbers on what matters most to a business when choosing where to expand or set up a new corporate footprint. This year we asked chief financial officers at leading U.S. companies who are members of the CNBC Global CFO Council what motivates their firms to choose one location over another.

The news for America's workers is mixed — corporations care a great deal about the skills you have to offer them when selecting worksites, but much less about your quality of life as measured by costs such as housing and living expenses.

Help wanted

Workforce topped the list when it comes to what matters most to CFOs when they are weighing their options to operate or expand in a new location, followed by cost of doing business and infrastructure. Quality of life, education and cost of living were among the least important factors.

The executives’ priorities are somewhat different from the attributes that states are pitching as they try to attract companies. Those sales pitches are what CNBC uses to weight the categories in our annual America’s Top States for Business study, based on a review of all 50 states’ economic development marketing campaigns.

Like the executives, states are also emphasizing their workforce the most. That is followed by infrastructure, cost of doing business, quality of life, technology and innovation, education, business friendliness, access to capital and cost of living.

Finding top talent is a persistent problem for employers: 84 percent of respondents said they are presently struggling to fill skilled positions.

According to U.S.-based CFO Council members, low unemployment and lack of education and training are among the top reasons they keep coming up short in their hunts.

Trump tax law leads to split among corporations

When it comes to choosing a location in which to operate after the newly imposed limits on state and local tax breaks, the council was split. More than half of respondents said the new limits would not affect their choice of location to set up shop, while 47 percent said it would be a factor in their decision-making.

The CNBC Global CFO Council represents some of the largest public and private companies in the world, collectively managing more than $4.5 trillion in market capitalization across a wide variety of sectors. Twenty of the 51 current U.S. members of the CFO Council weighed in on some of the most pressing issues that matter most when it comes to operating in their states. The survey was conducted from June 1–17, 2018.

This year's Top States ranking, CNBC's 12th study, scores all 50 states on 64 metrics across 10 categories of competitiveness rates, developed in part from an array of business and policy experts, official government sources, states, YPO members and the CNBC Global CFO Council.

— Additional reporting by CNBC Special Correspondent Scott Cohn