05/02/2016

For the second year in a row, North Carolina ranks first in the nation in a closely watched measurement of state business competitiveness.

Site Selection magazine’s 2016 “Prosperity Cup,” formerly known as the Competitiveness Award, is based on 10 factors of economic performance, including the total number of new and expanded facilities in the state, capital investment and total number of new jobs created in 2015.

North Carolina is tied with Texas for the top spot in this year’s ranking, followed in descending order by Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, South Carolina and Iowa.

cupAccording to Site Selection, the top two states’ economic development portfolios have three things in common: breadth, depth and economic diversity. North Carolina’s position in the ranking was most recently bolstered by a AAA bond rating and record venture capital numbers, according to the magazine.

Corporate leaders most often cite the state’s workforce as a critical factor their decisions to invest in North Carolina, state Commerce Secretary John E. Skvarla III told Site Selection. “Interestingly enough, in many ways it’s not just their specific skills, or the fact North Carolina workers have the nation’s best customized training programs to keep them sharp — it’s our can-do attitude that shines through,” Skvarla said in Site Selection’s article announcing the rankings. “That’s an intangible companies notice about our workforce and mention often.”

In a separate Site Selection ranking released in March, North Carolina is once again first in the eight-state Atlantic region for workforce development. The magazine’s second annual state workforce development rankings “provide a general sense of which states in a given region are devoting sufficient or superior resources to preparing their workforces for current and future employment,” Site Selection said.

North Carolina also held the No. 1 spot in the magazine’s first workforce development ranking, ahead of Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Florida, West Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland.

The state’s robust population growth helps fuel its pipeline of immediate and future workers. In announcing the Prosperity Cup winners, Site Selection pointed out North Carolina added more than 100,000 people in 2015 to become the ninth state with 10 million or more people. “Greater Raleigh was the 16th fastest-growing metro area in the U.S., and Greater Charlotte was the 17th-largest numeric-gaining metro area,” the magazine said.