Midwest Is Best Region In CNBC's Top States For Business 2011

There are 11 ways to win in CNBC's Top States For Business; 12, if you count the unofficial category of most improved.

St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri

That said, there are other standouts in the rankings.

Take the somewhat amorphous, but symbolic region known as the Midwest, or Middle America, a huge 12-state swath that includes Illinois,Indiana,Iowa, Kansas,Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska,North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakotaand Wisconsin.

The Midwest is probably tops when it comes to regions.

Three states made the top 10 (Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska), while seven made the top 15 (add Kansas, Indiana, North and South Dakota).

Missouri qualified for the top 20, while Ohio and Illinois are among the top 25.

Only Wisconsin (31) and Michigan (47) finished in the second half.

If that sounds surprising, it's probably because we have a somewhat negative impression of the region based on the economic landscape — which dates back to the Rustbelt Recession of the late 1970s and '80s.

But even that is not born out in the Economycategory rankings; North Dakota ranked No. 21, while Iowa and Nebraska tied for fifth.

In many other important categories — Cost Of Doing Business, Infrastructure & Transportation,Education,Business Friendliness, Cost of Living— the region was well represented, perhaps illustrating that the Midwest is a very big place and Kansas a long way from Ohio.

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If there's a weak spot, it is the Access To Capitalcategory, with only Illinois (5), thanks to Chicago, ranking higher than 13.

  • Complete 2011 Rankings

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