North Carolina Again Ranks as Site Selection’s Top State Business Climate

November 1, 2021

North Carolina ranks as the nation’s top state business climate in 2021, claiming the lead position for the second year in a row, according to Site Selection magazine.

“We tied for the top ranking last year, so it’s great news to leap ahead and be recognized as the sole winner of this national recognition,” said Christopher Chung, chief executive officer of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, which recruits corporate facilities to the state.

“We’re happy to place this honor alongside the state’s other top business rankings, including being Forbes’ choice as the nation’s best state for business for three straight years,” he added. North Carolina is also No. 2 on CNBC’s “America’s Top States for Business” list for 2021.

North Carolina held the No. 2 spot in Site Selection magazine’s annual ranking for five consecutive years before rising to the top spot in 2020 in a tie with Georgia, then unseating the Peach State this year. North Carolina enjoyed a six-year run in the top spot from 2005 through 2010.

North Carolina “claims first place by itself this year with the blend of location ingredients required by capital investors in key industry sectors,” said Mark Arend, editor in chief of Site Selection. “We congratulate the state level and local economic developers throughout North Carolina for working to cultivate a business climate that is the best in the U.S.”

Georgia drops to No. 2 this year in the Site Selection survey, with Texas, Ohio and Indiana rounding out the top five states.

Gov. Roy Cooper, left, elbow bumps FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies CEO Martin Meeson during the governor’s announcement that the company had chosen North Carolina for its planned $2 billion cell culture manufacturing facility. Courtesy North Carolina Office of the Governor

Chung said North Carolina’s economic development momentum has remained strong despite the pandemic, including winning some highly competitive megaprojects across diverse industries.

“These include Apple’s choice of Research Triangle Park for a 3,000-job, $1-billion East Coast campus; FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies’ $2-billion, 725-job plant in Holly Springs; and a more than $1 billion beverage manufacturing campus in Concord anchored by Red Bull, Ball Corp. and Rauch,” Chung said. “But equally important are the project wins having big impacts in our smaller towns and cities, such as White River Marine Group’s acquisition of Hatteras Yachts in New Bern and its plans for a state-of-the-art, 500-job boat manufacturing facility there.”

In a survey published with the Site Selection rankings, workforce skills were the most important criteria to site selectors for the sixth year in a row, with transportation infrastructure at No. 2. Workforce development, ease of permitting and regulatory procedures and utility cost and reliability rounded out the top five criteria.

The November 2021 issue of the magazine lists the top 25 state business climates based 50% on a survey of corporate real estate executives and 50% on an index of seven criteria derived from data in the Conway Projects database.

Those criteria are performance in Site Selection’s 2021 Prosperity Cup ranking (where North Carolina is No. 1); total Conway Projects Database-compliant facilities in 2020; total new facilities in 2020 per capita; total 2021 new projects year-to-date; total 2021 projects year-to-date per capita; and corporate and property tax data from the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Index

Read more here about Site Selection’s Top State Business Climates for 2021.