Business growth in communities like Greensboro, has helped North Carolina remain in the top 5 states to do business.

Business has been booming as North Carolina comes out of the COVID-19 pandemic, and one publication has recognized just how good things are going in the Tar Heel State.

Chief Executive Magazine ranked North Carolina in the top five in the latest version of it’s annual Best & Worst States for Business survey of CEOs.

“There’s a big spread across the Sun Belt from Raleigh to Charlotte to Tampa and Jacksonville, and the big metro areas of Texas, on to Phoenix that are all in various respects growing fast,” said Cullum Clark, director of the Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative. “It’s a distinctive model.”

North Carolina did drop one spot in the business rankings, but not because of anything it did wrong. It was more a product of Arizona skyrocketing from 10 in 2021 to four in 2022.

“With tech assets in the Research Triangle and the growing life sciences sector, the Tar Heel State has been on a roll in the past year. Thermo Fisher Scientific announced in December 2020 a $500 million investment and 500 new jobs in Greenville. Fintech company Robinhood added in March nearly 400 new jobs in Mecklenburg County. And in April 2021, Apple announced a $1 billion R&D campus in Wake County that will create 3,000 jobs by 2032. According to a recent survey and a white paper by the Tax Foundation and KPMC, the state now has one of the most competitive tax structures for business in the U.S.”

North Carolina also scores high marks thanks to 13 Fortune 500 businesses being headquartered in the state: Bank of America, Lowe’s, Nucor, Duke Energy, BB&T, Honeywell, LabCorp, Sonic Automotive, and Advanced Auto Parts.

Here’s a look at where all 50 states ranked this year, along with the Chief Executive comments on each state:

  • The Top 12

  • 1. Texas

    Dallas Texas Downtown

    Dallas, Texas downtown cityscape at twilight. (Getty Images)

    “While the story may be overplayed, it’s hard to deny the fact that more large companies continue to move headquarters or major parts of their operations from California to Texas. Tesla joined the movement in October 2021 when it announced it would relocate its headquarters from Palo Alto to Austin. Meanwhile, as of mid-year 2021, the Lone Star State led the nation in export trade with nearly double the sum of the next three largest states (California, New York and Louisiana) combined.”

  • 2. Florida

    While Gov. Ron DeSantis’ bold moves in the past year often went against CDC guidelines and the national consensus, there’s a strong case that it has helped the state’s economy weather the storm. Florida ranked #2 in Chief Executive’s 2021 Best and Worst States for Business for its business-friendly policies. The Sunshine State has landed several notable projects in the past year. Aviation manufacturer Aerion announced a $300 million capital investment that will create 675 new jobs by 2025. IT consulting firm Synergy Technologies is adding 300 new jobs with an expansion in Jacksonville. And Scotlynn USA, a logistics subsidiary of Canada-based Scotlynn Commodities, opened a new U.S. headquarters in Fort Myers.”

  • 3. Tennessee

    Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the Volunteer State maintained a spirit of resiliency as its government and citizens worked to rebuild the economy. One promising area is in electric vehicles. The state is now home to three OEMs and over 900 suppliers in an automotive industry that employs more than 123,000 residents. Tennessee now produces more than 16,000 electric vehicles annually.”

  • 4. Arizona

    According to the Small Business Jobs Index from Paychex and IHS Markit, Arizona led the nation in small business job creation in the fall of 2021, recovering more jobs than it lost since April 2020. Phoenix remains one of the top labor markets in the United States with a high concentration of college graduates. Tata Consultancies, LucidMotors, Facebook and Intel have all made announcements here in the past year.”

  • 5. North Carolina

    Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

    Charlotte, North Carolina, uptown skyline and park. (Getty Images)

    “With tech assets in the Research Triangle and the growing life sciences sector, the Tar Heel State has been on a roll in the past year. Thermo Fisher Scientific announced in December 2020 a $500 million investment and 500 new jobs in Greenville. Fintech company Robinhood added in March nearly 400 new jobs in Mecklenburg County. And in April 2021, Apple announced a $1 billion R&D campus in Wake County that will create 3,000 jobs by 2032. According to a recent survey and a white paper by the Tax Foundation and KPMC, the state now has one of the most competitive tax structures for business in the U.S.”

  • 6. Indiana

    Despite the unprecedented challenges and uncertainty during the pandemic, Indiana was on track to hit its fifth consecutive record-breaking year of economic development in 2021. One promising sector is manufacturing. In April 2021 alone, the state announced commitments from Amazon, Apple and Toyota with a total of more than $900million capital investment and 2,900 jobs. The challenge is now keeping the flow of talent to support the growth. In early May, Gov. Eric Holcomb launched the Indiana Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI), which will dedicate $500 million to encourage long-term sustainable investments to make regions across the state magnets for talent.”

  • 7. Ohio

    In a year when financial constraints led many states to scale back on economic development because of financial constraints, Ohio made significant investments to move its economy forward. The Buckeye State has allocated more than $15 billion towards innovation, job-ready sites, growth capital, broadband access and more. Ohio demonstrated the second-fastest recovery to pre-Covid-19 conditions in the region. And, of course, it came through with one of the biggest potential wins in recent economic-development history, with Intel’s promise to invest as much as $100 billion in the state in the next decade.”

  • 8. Nevada

    While discretionary spending, leisure and hospitality have taken a notable hit on Las Vegas’ economy, diversification in the Reno area has helped it bounce back quickly. Several innovative tech companies have made notable announcements in the region in the past year. SaaS company Discover Podium announced plans to add 300 employees within five years. Software company PlusPlus plans to hire 100 employees over the next five years. The lithium industry also represents another emerging opportunity in the state.”

  • 9. South Dakota

    South Dakota continues to attract new expansions and groundbreakings with its pro-business policies and tapered response to the pandemic. United States Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) data from March 2021 found the state was growing faster than any other in the nation, with an annual rate of 9.9% in the fourth quarter of 2020.”

  • 10. Utah

    Downtown Salt Lake City, Utah

    Downtown Salt Lake City. (Getty Images)

    The tech powerhouse of the Silicon Slopes remains a driving force in Utah’s economy and helped pull it through 2020 when other states were hindered with shutdowns and the limitations of social distancing. The state continues to expand in other sectors, too. Malouf Companies announced a $420 million expansion and 4,200 new jobs in Cache Valley, American Packaging is building a $126 manufacturing plant in Cedar City, and Cytiva is working on a $231 million expansion in Logan.”

  • 11. Georgia

    The Peach State continues to rise the ranks in Chief Executive’s Best & Worst States to do Business, moving up from #11 to 2020 to #9 in 2021. Atlanta’s increasing momentum as a fintech hub is fueled by big announcements from companies like Visa, which will add 1,000 jobs in the city. Manufacturing remains another strong sector in the state with companies like Peachtree Corners, Freshly, Danimer Scientific and Hyundai announcing expansions in 2021.”

  • 12. South Carolina

    South Carolina may lack the headquarters of a Fortune 500 company, but it may be one of the most business-friendly and tax-friendly states in the nation. For instance, there’s no state property tax, no local income tax, no inventory tax, no sales tax on manufacturing machinery, industrial power or material for finished products, and no wholesale tax or no unitary tax on worldwide profits. Many companies are also attracted to the state’s road systems, railroads and ports. Nestlé USA, BASF, Siemens and QVC have all announced investments here in the past year.”

  • The Bottom 5

  • 46. Washington

    Seattle cityscape and Space Needle

    Seattle, Washington (Getty Images)

    The Evergreen State has experienced a boom of IPOs in the past year. From January through October 2021, 15 companies in the state announced initial public offerings, a record. In the previous four years, only one company, Adaptive Biotechnologies, had gone public. Remitly Global, Sana Biotechnology and Impel NeuroPharma all announced IPOs in the past year, and, in August, cannabis marketplace Leafly announced an estimated $532 million IPO.”

  • 47. New Jersey

    With a highly educated workforce, the Garden State has long been a leader in biosciences and tech. New Jersey is home to more than a dozen of the world’s largest medical technology and pharmaceutical companies, some of which have played a prominent role in addressing Covid-19. In addition to expanding jobs in manufacturing and fintech, the Garden State is also climbing the ranks in sports wagering. Since legalizing sports betting three years ago, New Jersey has become one of the largest markets in the industry, often surpassing Nevada in monthly handle with nearly $1 billion per month wagered in the end of 2020.”

  • 48. Illinois

    For the 8th consecutive year, the 2020 IBM Global Location Trends report noted Chicago leads the nation in foreign direct investment (FDI) in North America and is #6 in FDI investments globally. Chicago is now home to more than 1,800 foreign-based companies that account for more than $140 billion in FDI. World Business Chicago works to increase foreign investment through agreements and partnerships with foreign cities and counties. Google, Nielsen, Lion Electric and Cisco have all made announcements and expansions in Illinois in the past year.”

  • 49. New York

    Despite taking the brunt of the pandemic at the start, the Empire State is experiencing a notable rebound, both in New York City and across the state. Plug Power announced in February 2021 that it will build one of the largest green hydrogen plants in the country in Genesee County. Fashionphile, CPI Aero and Ubiquity Solar have also announced investments in the state in the past year.”

  • 50. California

    crowded people on road intersection in downtown of los angeles

    Los Angeles, California (Getty Images)

    While it’s hard to overlook the growing number of companies moving their headquarters from California to other states, the Golden State remains an economic powerhouse with the 5th-largest gross domestic product in the world. CEOs often lambast California’s business climate and regulations, yet they don’t hesitate to set up shop and access the country’s top talent market. While Tesla, Oracle, Palantir and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise have made announcements to leave the state in the past year, companies like Google, Apple, L’Oréal and Takeda Pharmaceuticals are doubling down.”

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