Magazine ranks N.C. first in business climate

Georgia-based Site Selection magazine has named North Carolina as the best overall business climate for the third year in a row. North Carolina outranked Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia and Texas in the magazine's November issue.

"It's a pivotal ranking for us, we are thrilled to have it," said Linda Weiner, assistant secretary of the North Carolina Department of Commerce. "To be number one for three years in a row, particularly given the tough economic times we've been facing, is a wonderful plus for us. It's critical that CEOs across the country know that North Carolina is a great place to do business."

The ranking was determined from corporate data and from surveying companies' chief executive officers. The data used in the assessment is based upon the number of companies that either built new corporate facilities or expanded existing ones in each state. Site Selection also asked 152 senior level corporate executives which states had the best business climates and why.

While the CEO survey ranked Georgia as having the best overall business climate, North Carolina came out on top when the survey results were combined with the other criteria.

"Clearly the South is king when it comes to business recruitment," said Ron Starner, the director of publications for Site Selection and the author of the article. "In the mind of corporate executives, the South is the place to be. Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, Florida--the southern sunbelt states clearly dominate the rankings. North Carolina is the most competitive state in the most competitive region in the country."

The North Carolina economy is rooted in the manufacturing, biotechnological, pharmaceutical, plastic and automotive supply industries, Weiner said. Aerospace and military production also make up billions of the $275.6 billion dollar North Carolina Gross State Product last calculated in 2001.

One such company, General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, a Department of Defense supplier, is in the process of relocating its headquarters from Vermont to Charlotte. "Certainly the business climate was one of the reasons we selected Charlotte," said Phil Hynes, the vice president of strategic planning for GDATP. "It [has] a central location on the Eastern Seaboard, good transportation infrastructure, excellent quality of life, fantastic support by government officials and superb higher education infrastructure. We are very optimistic about the future in Charlotte."

North Carolina has also been rated highly for its business and economic climate by other magazines. Forbes Magazine placed four North Carolina metropolitan areas in its list of the 150 best places for careers and business in July--Raleigh-Durham placed third, Charlotte came in 37th, Greensboro in 102nd and Hickory rolled in at 128th. The effects of the business climate on Duke, however, are less direct, said Jim Gray, associate dean for marketing and communications of the Fuqua School of Business.

"[North Carolina] is a better atmosphere to learn business--a good business climate," Gray said. "Having a good business climate also helps to recruit faculty. But while [the ranking] is good news, it's not overwhelmingly important news."

Despite the positive ranking, Weiner cautioned that there is still room to improve the North Carolina business climate and economy. "While we are extremely proud, we realize we have more work to do, and there are people without jobs," she said. "We're doing everything we can to bring those jobs into North Carolina."


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