Minnesota is No. 1 state in the country for doing business, CNBC says


A new analysis today from CNBC ranks Minnesota as the top state in the country for doing business.

That's up from 6th place in the same survey a year ago.

CNBC, a business cable TV network, has released the rankings for the past nine years, scoring each state on 56 different measures of competitiveness. Those measures are then sorted into 10 broad categories, such as the cost of doing business, infrastructure, workforce, education and quality of life.

The study then weights those categories based on how much they are used by the states to attract business. So basically, the study ranks the states based on the criteria they use to sell themselves.

In those 10 categories, Minnesota ranked highest in education (second); quality of life (third); economy (fifth); technology and innovation (sixth); infrastructure (ninth) and work force (13th).

Minnesota ranked lower in other categories, including the cost of doing business (35th), the cost of living (32nd), business friendliness (23rd) and access to capital (23rd).

It's unusual for "a high-tax, high-wage, union-friendly state" to make it to the top of this ranking, CNBC noted. "But Minnesota does so well in so many other areas—like education and quality of life—that its cost disadvantages fade away."

The route that Minnesota is taking to economic success is an indicator of what businesses are emphasizing when they decide where to locate, CNBC continued.

"Rather than just seeking the lowest taxes or the highest incentives, companies are increasingly chasing the largest supply of skilled, qualified workers. So states are touting their workforces like never before, giving the Workforce category—where Minnesota finishes a respectable 13th—greater weight in our study."

"The North Star State navigates to the top with superb education, a strong economy and great quality of life. But costs are high."

In an interview on CNBC Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Mark Dayton defended the state's relatively high tax rates.

"We're not a low tax state, but we're a high value state," Dayton said, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

In a column he wrote for CNBC, Dayton noted Minnesota's unemployment rate is now 3.7 percent and mentioned its $2 billion budget surplus. He called the state's economic recovery over the past four years "extraordinary."

"The credit for this successful recovery belongs to the people of Minnesota. To the small-business owners and large corporate executives who have reinvested in our state. To their hardworking, productive employees, who have made those investments successful."

Rounding out the top five states in the survey were Texas, Utah, Colorado and Georgia. Minnesota's neighboring states in the Upper Midwest all ranked relatively high as well. North Dakota came in at No. 6, Iowa is No. 10, South Dakota is No. 11 and Wisconsin is No. 15.

The worst state in the nation for doing business, according to CNBC, is Hawaii - although it scored No. 1 in quality of life.

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