Top Business-Friendly States Share Common Traits: Low Regulations, Low Taxes, Happy Workforce


A survey of more than 700 corporate chief executives has produced a ranking of the Nation’s most business-friendly States, using a few basic criteria. Not surprisingly, the States that top the list have a lot in common.

Chief Executive magazine received responses from 736 American CEOs — “the highest response on record” in the survey’s nine-year history — on a series of questions framed by “metrics” that included taxation and regulation, quality of workforce and living environment. The abstract explains the significance of those three criteria:

In the minds of most leaders, a state’s friendliness is closely aligned with its tax and regulatory regime. Similarly, workforce quality also measures the perceived cooperativeness of workers with management, as well as the people’s general work ethic and education attainment. The living environment metric measures the perceived quality of education and public health facilities, as well as the affordability and quality of real estate, the transportation system and related environmental factors.

Texas finished at the top of the list, followed by Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana.

California finished dead last, preceded by New York, Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

The Internet is filled with mentions that the top 10 States all have Republican Governors, while seven of the bottom 10 States are governed by Democrats. But the formula for fostering capitalism isn’t the intellectual property of one political party; it’s simply one more facet of the ongoing, fundamental disagreement between Republican and Democratic politicians over how most effectively to manipulate public opinion to their benefit.

To no one’s surprise, it turns out that Republicans are generally winning that argument when it comes to commerce, because when you reward ambitious people who possess the resolve to risk their own capital, you often please both business owners and the people whom they hire.

That’s nothing new; the survey has continually revealed an unchanging pattern among States regarded as business-friendly, as well as those that aren’t. That many States’ rankings change little, or not at all, from year to year further indicates the proven consistency of what works and what doesn’t in the top- and bottom-ranked States’ policies. Each of the top five business-friendly States were ranked in exactly the same spot in last year’s survey, and only one of the bottom five (New Jersey) shifted its rank (sliding from 45 to 46) over the same period.

The CEOs quoted in the abstract say it best:

‘[A] good state is one that understands the private sector pays for the public sector and makes it easy for the private sector to conduct business and grow,’ remarks David N. Willis, CEO of CRW Parts, a Baltimore wholesale distribution firm. ‘California, New York and Illinois have high costs of living, high taxes and high regulation,’ says Mark Larsen, CEO of Maxxcap Group, a mid-size financial services firm. Additionally, each of these states makes it difficult, and often worse, than other places to do business. By contrast, ‘states like Texas and Ohio are consistently trying to help us grow our business and are listening to the leaders of companies to help solve problems,’ says Toledo-based Impact Products CEO Terry Neal.

The abstract can be found here, with the full interactive State-by-State ranking here.

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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  • Doc Sarvis

    As mentioned in the article most of these states are “red” states. Red states tend to get more of our tax money in relation to what taxes they pay into the system. In other words, they are largely subsidized by “blue” states.

    • Evan Eberhardt

      Right, because I am so sure New York produces more than the midwest states is terms of goods? Only an ignoramus would believe so. But since Wall Street has thieved nearly half the countries wealth, it skews that picture. Smoke and mirrors.

      • Doc Sarvis

        Evan Eberhardt,
        So you expect one Blue state, NY, to produce as much as all the midwestern states??? Let’s get real please. Why ignore all the other Blue states? Always good to see you folks work in an insult too even when you are making a NON-point.

  • Chester

    Doc, if you notice, TEXAS is at the top of two lists, the most business friendly state, AND the state receiving the most government money. Think there might be a correlation there?

    • Evan Eberhardt

      Yes, and where does the federal government get the money in the first place? From the states! Your point is moot.

    • texastwin827

      Chester, try educating yourself…it works wonders for credibility! Texas receives 90 cents of every 1.00 the PAY, unlike CA who gets back MORE than they pay! We probably would get back less, if we weren’t supporting half of Mexico’s citizens!

  • JimH

    As an Illinois resident, I can tell you by experience, over taxation and regulation strangled what once was a prosperous area.

    Right next door is Indiana with a low tax rate, a growing economy and a balanced budget.

    Our governor can’t figure out why after over taxing them and regulating them to death why the ingrates are moving one state over.(he never will)

    The voters might have a chance to change things if it weren’t for the Chicago cemetery vote. (they are the ones who won’t move out)
    Mitch Danials for President, 2016.

  • Major Domo

    As a Texan, I am proud to look down my nose at the rest of you.

    • David Baugh

      I spent some time in Texas, particularly, Cherokee County where I was falsely imprisoned for nearly a year of my life. The Texas judicial system is vile, wicked and corrupt! While in some places, it may appear to be a good place to live, it is just as corrupted as most other states so Texas is just another socialist police state of fascist feudalism ruled by absolute despotism as are all other states of the union.

      • Justsomeguy151

        The “justice” system is skewed and twisted to rob us of our rights, regardless of the state. You need to file a Title 42 law suit against those criminals.

      • Major Domo

        My comment was tongue in cheek and meant to be humor :)
        I have lived in Texas for most of my life and have always been able to make a living and support my family. I have also lived in 13 other states, my father moved us around a lot growing up. Texas enjoys a better economy for a lot of reasons not the least of which is no state income tax. We vote this crap down every time it comes up. This being said, the depression-era-like recession which hit hardest for me in 2009 has made it harder for us all, it’s just that here in this state, we have a lot of business which has fled other states for some very compelling reasons like excessive taxes. As far as the your false imprisonment, I too despise the prison-industrial complex and do not agree with where it is heading us all. I’m sorry this happened to you.