Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, and House Democratic Leader Eileen Filler-Corn of Fairfax County, responded last week to the state’s recent No. 1 ranking by CNBC in its annual business rankings of the 50 states.
The top ranking is determined following an extensive study of all 50 states based on 64 metrics in 10 categories of competitiveness. Virginia is tied with Texas for most years named top state for business by CNBC, with wins in 2007, 2009, 2011, and now 2019.
Virginia ranked No. 1 in workforce and education. Its other rankings were: infrastructure, 13, economy, 16, quality of life, 17, and cost of doing business, 35.
Virginia rose from No. 5 a year ago. This was the fourth time the Old Dominion was ranked first – it won CNBC’s original top billing in 2007 – but the first time since 2011.
CNBC noted that Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam signed into law a bipartisan program to cut business regulations by 25 percent within three years.
The company noted that Virginia gets 12 percent of its gross domestic product from defense spending, more than any other state. A rise in the Pentagon’s budget of $686 million in Fiscal Year 2019 helped spur Virginia to the top.
“One of my primary goals has been to make Virginia the number one place to do business, and to do it in a way that benefits all Virginians and every region of the commonwealth,” Northam said in a press release. “This recognition underscores our work to build an inclusive and diversified economy, invest in our workforce, and create quality jobs—and is proof that companies of many different sizes and industries can find a home in Virginia.”
Since Northam took office in January 2018, the state has secured more than $18.5 billion in capital investment and created 50,000 new jobs. Northam has announced $2.5 billion in new capital investment in Virginia’s distressed communities, including significant projects with Volvo and Microsoft. The state has attracted major investments from leading companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Micron, and many other prominent businesses are choosing to deepen their roots in the state.
“There’s no secret behind Virginia’s climb to the top of the rankings this year,” Cox said in a press release. “Our highly educated workforce, our business-friendly regulatory environment, low taxes, and our ongoing commitment to education make our commonwealth a great place for any business, from a mom-and-pop startup to the Fortune 500.
“CNBC specifically cited Republican initiatives in their report,” Cox said. “We provided nearly $1 billion in tax relief to working families, championed the bi-partisan legislation to cut burdensome business regulations by 25 percent, gave our teachers a 5-percent raise, put the brakes on college tuition hikes for the first time in 20 years, and put an emphasis on workforce training and college degrees that businesses actually need.
“The ranking comes despite policy proposals from Democrats that would have set Virginia back,” Cox said. “We blocked more than $17.9 billion in bad business bills that would have killed 156,000 jobs, including an energy tax scheme that would significantly increase electricity rates and the Democratic bill to repeal the right-to-work law that protects employees from mandatory union membership.”
“The CNBC ranking reflects Democrats’ commitment and effort to invest in the economic engine of this commonwealth: the workforce,” Filler-Corn said. “Elevating hard-working Virginians with access to quality education, healthcare, and housing is simply good for business.”
The CNBC rankings list Texas second, followed by North Carolina, Utah and Washington.
Six through 10 are: Georgia, Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado and Ohio.
The bottom 10 (41 to 50) are: New Mexico, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Maine, West Virginia, Louisiana, Alaska, Mississippi, Hawaii and Rhode Island.
Voters will decide control of the General Assembly in November. Currently, the Republicans control the House of Delegates 51-49 and the state Senate 21-19.