Moving Up The Rankings of Top States For Business

Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania can all make a good case for most-improved status in CNBC's Top States For Business 2011, but the calculations are more complicated this year because of the bi-annual re-weighting of the categories-and-points system.


Ohio moved up the most spots —11 — landing at 23rd; Floridaadvanced 10 spots (28/18), Pennsylvania gained eight spots (20/12) and Georgia six (10/4).

Rankings, of course, are determined by scoring, and the 2010 and 2011 editions are quite different when it comes to points per category.

Interestingly enough, Georgia's ranking in any one category didn't change very much, but it did happen to perform well in categories that were given more points this year — cost of living (100 vs. 25), workforce (350 vs. 315) — which contributed to its sizable gain of 187 points.

Conversely, Ohio added 219 points, even though its biggest improvement was in a category worth fewer points in 2011 than 2010. The Buckeye State jumped from 29th to 5th in cost of doing business(450 points in 2010 vs. 350 in 2011.) Still, a big improvement in that point-heavy category and another one, economy, certainly helped.

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Pennsylvania also moved up considerably in the cost of doing business (40/27) but clearly benefited from its improvement in the access to capital category (11/7), whose point value went from 50 to 100. That combination helped produce a 173-point gain, and its jump on the rankings from 20 to 12.

Illinois also advanced eight spots (30/22), adding 166 points, while Indiana rose from 21st to 15th, managing to add 173 points in the process.

One thing that is not disputable: Pennsylvania is clearly the most improved state over the past two years (in 2010, it advanced from 32 to 20), and no other state shares such dramatic consistent improvement.

  • Complete 2011 Rankings

Category Stars

Several categories also saw significant changes, with states making demonstrable improvement.

The Cost of Doing Businessone is a good example. Ohio had plenty of company in moving up: Kentucky (4/12) and North Carolina (9/15) cracked the top 10, as did Minnesota (8/12) and North Dakota (9/13). Wisconsin rose to 13 from 24, and Illinois 24 from 35.

Quality of Life is another category with a lot of upward mobility. Wyoming (4/10) and South Dakota (5/11) broke into the top ten, while Nebraska valued from 21 to 12. New Mexico (33/24) and Rhode island (33/24) moved into the top half.

In theInfrastructure & Transportationcategory, dramatic improvement reshaped the top ten: North Carolina (3/9), Illinois (6/12), California (7/16), Florida (8/21), Arizona (10/23) and Michigan (10/24).

After Alaska, Delaware (22/45) was the most improved in the Economy category. Arkansas (9/27) also made great strides.

InEducation, Virginia (6/13) and Washington (14/22) took most-improved honors.

Utah (4/10) led the gains in Business Friendliness, whileIndiana(14/26) and Florida (9/17) powered up theAccess to Capitalrankings.

Technology & Innovation had the least change, with Illinois moving to 6 from 14, along with Cost of Living, not surprisingly,with only Mississippi (10/13) and Michigan (18/24) making noticeable progress.

Biggest Losers

Overall, a handful merit mentioning. South Dakota fell out of the top 10; and Arizona, Washington and Wyoming all dropped from the top 20.

Additionally, New Jerseyplunged into the bottom half, while Vermont joined the bottom 10. Vermont is the big loser over the last two years. Now 44th, it was 30th in 2009. (Ah, but Vermont has that consistent, top five quality of life ranking.)

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