Right on the heels of the news that Georgia now ranks at the top of the list in the movie business, a new ranking has the state right up there among the best of the best for business — period.
Financial network CNBC’s annual “America’s Top States for Business” ranking was published Tuesday, with the Peach State listed behind only Washington for the robustness of its commercial climate.
The CNBC rating credits the state, not surprisingly, with some superlatives; it also points to some warning signs that could jeopardize those superlatives if the problems aren’t addressed.
Not that the state has done all that badly in recent CNBC estimates — it was ranked No. 1 in 2014, dropped to fifth two years ago and to eighth in 2016, before climbing all the way up to the second spot this year.
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That significant rise, CNBC said, is “due in part to its economy — the best in the nation, according to our study — boasting solid state finances and solid growth. The state also finishes near the top for Workforce (No. 3) and Infrastructure (No. 4)."
Ironically, and more than a little ominously, the most prominent negative in CNBC’s assessment is the one that most seriously threatens its most important assets. In the category of education, the state ranked well down in the lower half (33rd), the same as last year’s ranking: “There is room for improvement [in] Education," CNBC said, "where it holds steady at No. 33, due to low test scores and spending …”
The CNBC scoring also put Georgia in the lower half (No. 28) in the Quality of Life category: “Georgia is consistently adding jobs, but recovery has been difficult for the state."
It should go without saying that if Georgia’s work force is one of its most attractive assets for business, then continuing to produce an adequately — and, we would hope, superlatively — educated work force is imperative. Quality of life, of course, is always near the top of any list of reasons why decision makers for a business might or might not choose to locate in one place rather than another. Quality of life, along with Washington State’s reputation for technology and innovation — “the nation’s largest concentration of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workers,” CNBC noted — is one of the reasons that state is ranked at the top in spite of a relatively high cost of living.
Obviously a fourth straight Top 10 ranking on a business index as well known and credible as this one is not an occasion for accentuating the negative, especially with this year’s “runner-up” status and the other encouraging economic news we’ve heard of late.
It’s also not an excuse for pretending the work that still needs to be done isn’t important. Georgia is a great state for business, but it’s also a state where opportunities are anything but equally accessible.