CNBC’s annual business rankings are in, and North Carolina wins the prize for America’s best state for business in 2023. It’s the second straight year the Tar Heel State has earned the top spot.
The study measures all 50 states across ten categories of competitiveness, including workforce, infrastructure, healthcare, the cost of doing business, and the cost of living.
North Carolina’s success at attracting and retaining talent across various industries was a big factor in its high ranking.
“Companies in desperate need of skilled workers are going where the people are, and people are going to North Carolina,” said CNBC Special Correspondent Scott Cohn. “The state’s well-balanced economy is handling the growth well.”
North Carolina has also attracted a bucketload of investments from businesses.
In 2023, Bosch made a $130 million investment in the state to expand its power tool manufacturing facility. Cellular therapeutics company ProKidney invested $458 million in a biomanufacturing facility in Greensboro.
Apple recently filed paperwork to build a $1 billion facility in Research Triangle Park. It would be the company’s first corporate hub on the East Coast.
Researchers also pointed out that North Carolina is killing it in career education.
“You have one of the most competitive community college systems in America as well in North Carolina, that is attuned to the needs of their industry,” said Josh Wright, an executive vice president with labor market analytics firm Lightcast, which worked with CNBC on the study.
Related: Entrepreneurs Are Driving the Most Economic Growth In These 10 U.S. States, According to Shopify Internal Data
Struggles with health care and crime
But North Carolina also has its share of problems, which could be bad for business if not addressed.
According to FBI data, violent crime surged in NC in 2022. The state also ranks near the bottom in health care, with low public health funding and many citizens without health insurance.
Rising political turmoil could also damage the state’s standing. North Carolina’s Democratic Governor, Roy Cooper and Republican legislators have battled on several key issues. And this week, state Rep. Tricia Cotham changed her political affiliation from Democrat to Republican, weakening Cooper’s veto power.
Other highs and lows
Virginia came in second place on CNBC’s best-states-for-business list. Tennesee was third, and Georgia was fourth.
The worst state for business? Alaska. Last year, Alaska’s GDP dropped by 2.4%, with oil production plummeting to 1970s levels. Meanwhile, the state ranks third as the most expensive to do business — just behind Hawaii and Massachusetts.