Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Opinion

July 2, 2014

MORTON MARCUS: New ranking of states offers scoring values, but not much insight

The same day Gov. Pence held his tax circus (conference) last week, CNBC (the cable business channel) released its ranking of “America’s Top States for Business.”

These rankings compare the states on 56 measures of competitiveness grouped into 10 broad categories. CNBC had “input from business groups, economic development experts, companies and the states themselves.” The categories were weighted by “how frequently they are cited in state economic development marketing materials. That way, (the) study ranks the states based on the criteria they use to sell themselves.”

Indiana ranked 19th among the 50 states in attractiveness to business. That’s pretty good. Georgia led the pack and Rhode Island was last. Ohio and Wisconsin ranked higher than we did, but Michigan, Illinois and Kentucky trailed us.

The details tell the story best. Of a possible 2,500 points, we accumulated 1,384 or 55 percent. Our best showing was in cost of living: 88 percent based on 44 of 50 points. We score well on Cost of Living because we have low wages and, consequently, low housing prices.

Our next most favorable category was business friendliness where we garnered 150 of 200 points (75 percent). Businesses like a light touch of regulations imposed by the state and “the perceived friendliness of legal and tort liability systems.”

Our third most favorable factor was transportation and infrastructure with 240 of 300 points (69 percent). Obviously, the study did not include any recent pothole metrics. Our transportation and infrastructure prominence is due to our location and the heavy spending done by the federal government to support us.

The fourth element of 10 was education. Test scores and the trend of financing higher education gave us 92 of 150 points or 61 percent.

Next, the cost of doing business came in at 59 percent, or 264 of 450 points. This is the heaviest weight in the study, including business taxes, utility charges and rents for commercial property.

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