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Business Facilities, a national publication focused on site selection and economic development, began releasing the results of its 9th Annual Rankings Report on July 22. According to BF Editor in Chief Jack Rogers, several states—including Texas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Washington and Utah—deserve a shout-out for their overall performance in the magazine’s 2013 state rankings.
The Lone Star State, the magazine’s 2013 State of the Year, continued to show its dominance across several flagship rankings categories, a performance you would expect from the nation’s most dynamic state. Louisiana, also a strong finisher, has steadfastly executed a diverse growth strategy that is nurturing new high-tech ventures while building on the Pelican State’s traditional strength in the oil and gas sectors. Speaking of the latter, the oil boom in North Dakota continues to propel the Peace Garden State to the top of the list of economic powerhouses. Washington emerged as a leader in BF’s revamped alternative energy categories, while Utah notched another impressive across-the-board finish.
“The results from our most recent rankings had us tempted to restructure our annual evaluation of the states into a new configuration: Texas and everybody else,” Rogers said. “The Lone Star State repeated its success in our 2012 rankings with a tour de force just as impressive in our 2013 package.”
Texas has repeated as BF‘s top-ranked state for Best Business Climate; it also snared no. 1 rankings for Best Infrastructure, Natural Gas Production Leaders, Most FTZ Activity and Installed Wind Power Capacity Leaders. A recitation of other top 10 finishes by Texas in our state rankings requires a deep breath: no. 2 in Data Center Leaders, no. 3 in Aerospace/Defense Industry Leaders, no. 5 in Biotechnology Strength Employment Leaders, no. 5 in Nuclear Power Generation Leaders, no. 4 in Credit Quality and no. 4 in Renewable Energy Leaders (Capacity).
Texas was the first state in the U.S. to bounce back to pre-Recession employment levels in 2011, while most of the rest of the country was still digging out of a deep economic trench. “Without question, Texas’ natural supremacy in the oil and gas sector was the turbocharger that kept its jobs engine humming during tough times,” Rogers said. “But the folks in the 10-gallon hats are not content to rely on the ups and downs of the energy sector for sporadic growth.”
Texas has executed a diverse and aggressive economic development strategy which has seen it become a global leader in semiconductors and a rising star in other high-tech growth sectors including bioscience, supported by a world-class university system. Just one example is Apple’s new global Operations Center, which is bringing more than 3,600 new jobs to the state capital [a BF Economic Development of the Year Bronze Award winner].
The Lone Star State also has steadily built up an impressive portfolio in a resurgent manufacturing sector, including a growing constellation of automotive and heavy equipment production facilities. Even alternative energy has been given a big “Howdy” in the home of Big Oil—Texas is a national leader in wind power.
Louisiana’s FastStart workforce training program grabbed the top ranking in BF‘s Workforce Training Leaders category for the fourth straight year. “Louisiana’s innovative workforce training effort remains the gold standard for this critical development requirement,” Rogers said.
Louisiana notched top 10 results in several key state rankings categories, notably improving to no. 4 in Best Business Climate. The Pelican State also excelled in Economic Growth Potential (2), Most FTZ Activity (2), Lowest Cost of Labor (10) and Natural Gas Production Leaders (2).
North Dakota’s Bakken shale oil drilling boom propelled it to the top of the magazine’s Economic Growth Potential ranking. ND’s astounding 13.4 percent GDP growth rate also earned the Peace Garden State the top ranking in BF‘s Employment Leaders category for the second consecutive year.
“With a growth rate five times the national average, it’s time to recognize the enormous potential emerging up North,” Rogers said. “North Dakota is generating so many jobs, newcomers are sleeping in their cars while new housing is built.”
Washington was the top performer in BF‘s revamped energy rankings, grabbing the top slot in both of our Renewable Energy Leaders categories (Capacity and Power Generation). WA also notched a no. 1 ranking for Lowest Industrial Electricity Rates and second-place rankings for Aerospace/Defense Industry Leaders and Nuclear Power Generation Leaders, among other top 10 results.
Utah, a traditional front-runner in BF’s state rankings in recent years, was the no. 3 state for Best Business Climate and no. 4 in Economic Growth Potential. The Beehive State also achieved top 10 finishes in Best Infrastructure, Employment Leaders, Best Business Tax Climate, Data Center Leaders, Credit Quality, Natural Gas Production Leaders and Lowest Industrial Electricity Rates.
“With its growing population, a skilled workforce and an economic gardening strategy planting seeds for bushels of new jobs, Utah will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come,” Rogers said.
The complete results of Business Facilities’ 9th Annual Rankings Report will be posted on the BF website on August 5. The results also will be featured in the cover story of BF’s July/August 2013 issue.