The Key Strengths of the 5 Best States

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Texas once again tops Chief Executive’s list of Best States for Business, and comments by CEOs make it clear why they are attracted to the Lone Star State. “Texas continues to offer the most conducive environment to business growth with moderate tax rates and an accommodating regulatory environment,” one CEO said. “I have found the state of Texas to be the best with regard to tax and regulations, as well as their incentives!!!” said another.

The U.S.’s No. 1 exporter, Texas exported $232 billion in goods in 2016, according to the Texas Economic Development Corp. Texas has the second-largest state airport system, with 380 airports, including the world’s first purely industrial airport at the Fort Worth Alliance Global Logistics Hub. Texas also has 11 deep-water ports, including the Port of Houston, one of the nation’s top 10, and 10,425 miles of freight rail—more than any state.

The Lone Star State is home to 51 Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil, AT&T, Kimberly-Clark, Texas Instruments, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

Texas continues to offer the most conducive environment to business growth with moderate tax rates and an accommodating regulatory environment.

Florida ranked No. 2 on Chief Executive’s Best & Worst States for Business, with affordable labor, land and capital costs, according to Enterprise Florida. Moreover, the Tax Foundation ranked the Sunshine State No. 4 on its 2017 State Business Tax Climate Index. Companies headquartered in Florida include CSX, Office Depot, Hertz, Ryder and ADT.

Ranking third is North Carolina, with rapidly-growing business sectors such as biotechnology, energy, finance and information technology. Bank of America is based in the Tar Heel State, as is Duke Energy, Sealy, Deere Hitachi, SAS and Hamilton Beach.

North Carolina is a cost-effective place to relocate or expand because of its performance-based incentive programs, competitive cost structure and low business tax burden, according to the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

South Carolina ranks fourth, with a favorable corporate income tax structure and zero taxes on state property, local income, inventory and wholesale products, according to the South Carolina Department of Commerce. There also are no sales taxes on manufacturing machinery, industrial power or materials for finished products, and no unitary tax on worldwide profits. Companies calling the Palmetto State home include Michelin North America, Sonoco and Denny’s.

Rounding out the Top 5 is Indiana, the home state of the U.S. Vice President, Mike Pence. Indiana is one of only a handful of states with a AAA credit rating and an actual budget surplus, according to the Indiana Economic Development Corp. For any company that may be interested in moving or expanding, the Hoosier State is lowering business taxes this year, next year, and every year after that through 2021. Eli Lilly, Cummins, Kimball and others are based in Indiana.

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert
Katie Kuehner-Hebert has more than two decades of experience writing about corporate, financial and industry-specific issues. She is based in Running Springs, Calif.

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