Virginia topped CNBC's annual "America's Top States For Business" report released this afternoon. The Old Dominion state was followed by Texas, with North Carolina, Georgia and Colorado rounding out the top 10. Poor little Rhode Island was ranked in 2011 as the worst state for business, followed by chilly Alaska and then sunny Hawaii.
CNBC explains their rating system:
"We scored all 50 states on 43 measures of competitiveness developed with input from business groups including the National Association of Manufacturers and the Council on Competitiveness. States received points based on their rankings in each metric. Then, we separated those metrics into ten broad categories, weighting the categories based on how frequently they are cited in state economic development marketing materials. That way, our study ranks the states based on the criteria they use to sell themselves."
Texas and Virginia have gone back and forth between 1 and 2 every year since the list began in 2007. Ohio advanced 11 spots from last year's list, ranking as the most improved state followed by Florida and Pennsylvania. Vermont took the biggest plunge to 44 after having been rated 30 just years ago in 2009.
Along political lines six of the top ten business friendly states are run by Republican governors. Of the recent former Republican governors considering making a run for President in 2012 Tim Pawlenty's Minnesota (Governor 2003-2011) tops at 7 and Jon Huntsman's Utah (Governor 2005-2009) came in at number 8. Potential candidate and current Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has guided his state to the 1 or 2 spot each of the last five years.
Despite ranking third to last for business, Hawaii was rated to have the highest quality of life with Louisiana ranking at the bottom. In the Technology and Innovation portion of the report California reigns champ followed by New York, Massachusetts, Texas and Washington. In 2011 New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Maryland made the top 10 for both Technology and Innovation as well as Education. In terms of cost of living Kentucky, Tennessee and Oklahoma in order topped the list for most affordable while Hawaii, Alaska, and California ranked as the most expensive.