Following a growing trend (Site Selection Magazine named Georgia the number one state for business in 2013) Georgia has been selected by CNBC as America's Top State for Business in 2014. As reported by CNBC:
"Georgia—the Peach State—slices up the competition in the 2014 America's Top States for Business rankings by CNBC, signaling an apparent shift back to the Sun Belt from the energy-rich Northern Plains. Always a contender, Georgia outdid itself in 2014. The state scores a solid 1,659 points out of a possible 2,500, finishing at or near the top in three categories and in the top half in all but two. Since we began rating the states for competitiveness in 2007, Georgia has never finished outside the top 10 overall, with fourth-place finishes in 2007 and 2011, and a respectable eighth place in 2013.
Each year, our Top States study rates all 50 states on more than 50 metrics in 10 categories of competitiveness. We weight the categories based on how frequently they appear as selling points in state economic development marketing materials. That way, we hold the states to their own standards. This year's categories and point totals are:
- Cost of Doing Business (450 points)
- Economy (375 points)
- Infrastructure (350 points)
- Workforce (300 points)
- Quality of Life (300 points)
- Technology & Innovation (300 points)
- Business Friendliness (200 points)
- Education (150 points)
- Cost of Living (50 points)
- Access to Capital (25 points)
The Georgia workforce is tops in the nation, with an abundant supply of educated, largely nonunion workers. But that's not new—it's Georgia's third straight year atop our Workforce category. The big changes for Georgia in 2014 are economic. While overall growth trails the national recovery, and the unemployment rate has remained stubbornly above the national average, our study looks to the future. Georgia's solid job growth and rebounding housing market help it jump to third place in our Economy category.
That strength, in turn, helps Georgia rise to the top of our Infrastructure category. While the commute in metro Atlanta is as maddening as ever, roads and bridges are in the top tier nationally. In addition, the port of Savannah had a record year last year, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport just marked its 16th straight year as the world's busiest. Also helping Georgia in the category are marked improvements in its drinking water, including a $90 million upgrade just completed in Cobb County, northwest of Atlanta.
But as any Georgian knows, every peach has its pit. Georgia's worst categories are Quality of Life and Education, finishing 32nd in both. Poor health hurts Georgia's quality of life. Twenty-nine percent of Georgians are obese, and more than 19 percent lack health insurance. Poor air quality doesn't help in the category, either. And in education, local school districts as well as colleges and universities are still struggling with budget cuts."
Responding to the good news is Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, who released the following statement:
"When I ran for governor, I vowed that I would work every day to make Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation in which to do business. Last year Site Selection magazine named Georgia the best for business and, more recently, tapped our state as the most competitive in the nation.
These rankings are a testament to the commitment from Georgia businesses, communities, our economic development partners and the people of Georgia. As more and more people see Georgia's successes and consider it for an expansion or relocation, I think more rankings will put Georgia on top.
The primary building block of Georgia's business climate is our highly skilled workforce. Georgia ranks No. 1 in workforce development and has one of the largest university systems in the U.S., housing more than 50,000 annual graduates from 31 public colleges and universities.
Our exceptional workforce training model, Georgia Quick Start, has trained more than 1 million Georgians and continues to be one of our greatest economic development resources. Quick Start allows our technical schools to work directly with employers to fill jobs that require particular skills.
Georgia has a solid and seamlessly connected logistics infrastructure. We are home to the world's busiest passenger airport and a top-ranked international air cargo hub, the fourth-busiest container terminal in the nation, two Class 1 railroads and six major interstate highways. In fact, you can reach 80 percent of the U.S. market in two hours by air or two days by road.
We are not only seeing an increase in jobs and investment opportunities from domestic companies, but for the fourth consecutive year, we have experienced a record increase in both exports and imports. Georgia is now the 11th-largest exporting state. Based on this ranking, we know that Georgia companies are pursuing international markets and that international companies are looking to us for business opportunities.
In March we broke ground on the brand-new Georgia BioScience Training Center, signifying our commitment to supporting the growing life sciences industry. By investing our resources in our people, we are creating a world-class global infrastructure for the health-care and life science industries.
A cornerstone of the state's economy—the floor-covering industry—is in the midst of a resurgence, with thousands of new jobs to be created over the next few years. Not only have we had record-breaking results in terms of our business retention and recruitment efforts, but Georgia's tourism industry has generated the largest economic impact on record, with $53.6 billion in 2013.
"Resources such as comprehensive corporate incentives and job tax credits help drive the expansion of existing industries and attract new business to Georgia." Resources such as comprehensive corporate incentives and job tax credits help drive the expansion of existing industries and attract new business to Georgia.
The Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act has put Georgia at the epicenter for film and television productions. New rankings place Georgia third in the U.S. and fifth in the world in terms of feature-film production.
The sales-and-use tax exemption on energy used in manufacturing has distinguished us from our competition and is supporting a resurgence in the manufacturing sector—particularly for existing manufacturing facilities in Georgia.
These are exciting times for Georgia, and my goal is to maintain our status as a leader in the global marketplace."