NC Is Top State for Business, According to Annual CNBC Study

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North Carolina just added another first to a growing list of achievements. 

It has been named by CNBC as “America’s Top State for Business in 2022.” This is the first time the state has taken the number-one spot in the 15-year history of the ranking. But it’s always been a contender, finishing in the top 10 states during 13 of the last 14 years, and in the top five three times since 2017. The Tar Heel state ended up a close second last year.

CNBC Special Correspondent Scott Cohn made the announcement at the Oceanic at the Crystal Pier in Wrightsville Beach during a live broadcast today with Gov. Roy Cooper.

“North Carolina is the best place in America to do business and the main reason is our people,” said Cooper. “This is a great honor, and we’re going to continue to work with our state legislature, businesses, education leaders and employees to build a talented workforce and resilient infrastructure needed to support high-paying jobs of the next generation.”

CNBC, one of the world’s leading business news organizations, said its annual ranking considers 88 metrics in 10 broad categories of competitiveness. The categories are weighted on how frequently states use them as selling points in economic development marketing materials. 

CNBC ranks North Carolina as America’s strongest state economy, with vigorous job expansion, solid public finances, and a healthy housing market. NC’s economic growth was 6.7% last year, while jobs increased by 3.6%.

The state also is home to one of the nation’s oldest research and development hubs – Research Triangle Park – which helped seal a fifth-place finish in the Technology and Innovation category. And as one of the country’s major banking centers, North Carolina also ranked high in Access to Capital, finishing second only to California. The state’s workforce ranked 12th in the nation.

“Last year, we announced more than 24,000 new jobs and investments exceeding $10.1 billion from future-focused companies in fields like biotechnology, computers, and electric vehicles,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “There are many factors for our success, including our central East Coast location, premier quality of life and low cost of business, but our greatest asset is our diverse and highly skilled workforce that is supported by our top-rated education system.”

The state’s life sciences sector is a major contributor to its economic strength.

“This is another affirmation of North Carolina’s long-term commitment to build our economy on a foundation of life sciences, information technology and other growth industries emanating from our amazing universities,” said Doug Edgeton, president and CEO of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. “Our 790 life sciences companies statewide now employ 70,000 people and create $84 billion in annual economic activity. Not only are we a top state for business in general, but we’re also a global life sciences leader.”

North Carolina scored 1,580 of a possible 2,500 points for its first-place finish. Washington was second, followed by Virginia, Colorado and Texas. Tennessee, Nebraska, Utah, Minnesota and Georgia rounded out the top 10. Mississippi finished dead last.

“Time and again, the leadership in North Carolina has managed to put aside deep political divisions to forge a solid economy and an outstanding business climate,” said CNBC’s Cohn in making the announcement. “That cooperation is proving to be especially valuable during these complicated times and it may have also helped the state’s ranking.”

Despite all the good news, North Carolina ranked only 28th for Life, Health and Inclusion, lagging in two important metrics: per-capita public health spending and hospital resources.

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