By TYLER ARNOLD
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Virginia has the best business climate in the country in 2021, according to Business Facility’s annual business ranking released this week.
“The commonwealth’s location, right next to the District of Columbia, combined with its pro-business work environment, strong workforce and educational systems, makes it [a] great place to do business in,” Business Facility Editorial Director Seth Mendelson said in a statement.
Virginia received the top ranking for a variety of reasons. The commonwealth has a workforce of 4.1 million and only has a 3.6% unemployment rate, which is the 10th lowest in the country. It also has successful workforce programs, according to the ranking. This includes the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, which offers training and recruitment and Fast Forward Virginia, which providers workers with credentials and training.
The commonwealth also runs other workforce development programs and workforce connection programs.
“I am proud of the work our administration has done to develop the strongest business-friendly environment in the nation,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement. “During my term, we’ve attracted more than $80 billion in economic investment, creating more than 100,000 jobs—a record for any Virginia governor. Virginia has set a new standard for all other states. Companies want to invest here and create jobs here because of our welcoming environment, commitment to developing our workforce, and our existing infrastructure.”
Although the state also ranked first in business by CNBC, the Thomas Jefferson Institute questions that high of a score.
“The people behind that ranking do not provide any objective criteria they used, unlike others who are grading the state business climates,” Stephen Haner, a senior fellow for state and local tax policy at the free-market Thomas Jefferson Institute, told The Center Square.
“Virginia’s actual job growth remains anemic and its energy future clouded, compared to other states,” Mr. Haner said. “Fortunately, a change of direction is coming with this new administration.”
According to a report from the Virginia Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission, Virginia lagged the national average substantially in gross domestic product, per-capita income and labor force numbers over the past decade. The state had less than two-thirds of the national average in all three categories.