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This year’s annual Rankings Report arrives as every state in the nation is struggling with the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression. The downturn adds an increased urgency to the competition between the states to maintain the economic base they have, and to move as quickly as possible to establish the emerging industries of the 21st century.
As in past years, we have continued to refine and upgrade our rankings, adding new data sources and fine-tuning the criteria we apply to produce the results. We have tried to give special weight this year to new incentive programs and other state initiatives that are specifically targeted toward improving that state’s standing within a ranking category.
We took special care to make sure that our evaluations of state rankings in two critical categories, Greenest States and Overall Biotechnology Strength, reflect the diversity and scope of each state’s efforts in these two growth sectors. Along with our traditional “flagship” ranking, Best Business Climate, a place at the top of our biotech and green rankings has emerged as perhaps the most coveted designation we can bestow. As we reported in the March issue of Business Facilities, many states are protecting their emerging biotech sectors from budget cuts. Our June cover story, “Building a Greener Economy,” revealed that the movement for sustainable development, smart growth and green building is now a key driver of overall economic development.
INFRASTRUCTURE, HEALTH AND SAFETY ARE ASSESSED
Among the new categories you will find in our 2009 Rankings Report are rankings for leaders in Transportation Infrastructure and Workforce Health and Safety. These concerns have moved to the top of the national agenda as economic stimulus funds are targeted to shovel-ready infrastructure projects, and containing the spiraling cost of healthcare has become a top priority for the new Administration in Washington. There is no question that transportation infrastructure and the availability of adequate and cost-effective healthcare are becoming important components of the site selection decision-making process.
We again give a tip of our hat to CQ Press, which publishes a multitude of statistics on states and cities annually, and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), which in tandem with Battelle produces the most comprehensive data set for state biotech initiatives.
We believe the current economic environment gives special bragging rights to the winners in our 2009 Rankings Report. We congratulate all of this year’s top-ranked locations, and, as always, we invite your suggestions for new categories for next year’s rankings.