10 Best States for Business

No. 1Texas

Job growth in Texas continues to amaze the country, although it slipped to No. 4 from No. 3 percentage-wise in 2013. Crippling drought there keeps businesses wary.

Governor: Rick Perry (Republican)
Tax Foundation rank: 11
ALEC-Laffer Economic Outlook rank: 12
Kauffman Foundation Index of Entrepreneurial Activity (2012) rank: 15
Total Nonfarm Employment Percentage Growth (2013): 4
Economic-development contact: Texas Wide Open for Business, 512/936-0100, www.texaswideopenforbusiness.com; Jonathan Taylor, Executive Director

No. 2Florida

The housing renaissance may have boosted Florida’s economy more than that of any other state. A new tax exemption for machinery and equipment purchases provided more help.

Governor: Rick Scott (Republican)
Tax Foundation rank: 5
ALEC-Laffer Economic Outlook rank: 9
Kauffman Foundation Index of Entrepreneurial Activity (2012) rank: 14
Total Nonfarm Employment Percentage Growth (2013): 2
Economic-development contact: Enterprise Florida Inc., 407/956-5600, www.enterpriseflorida.com; Gray Swoope, President & CEO, Florida Secretary of Commerce

No. 3Tennessee

Tennessee is benefiting from the boom in domestic auto production, hosting Nissan. But its pro-labor credentials took a hit from the union dalliance of Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga.

Governor: Bill Haslam (Republican)
Tax Foundation rank: 15
ALEC-Laffer Economic Outlook rank: 18
Kauffman Foundation Index of Entrepreneurial Activity (2012) rank: 35
Total Nonfarm Employment Percentage Growth (2013): 27
Economic-development contact: Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development; 615/741-1888, www.tn.gov/ecd; Bill Haggerty, Commissioner

No. 4North Carolina

In 2013, the state passed a comprehensive, business-favoring tax-reform package that was hailed by many analysts as the best by any state in decades. But its job-growth rank dropped from 2012.

Governor: Pat McCrory (Republican)
Tax Foundation rank: 44
ALEC-Laffer Economic Outlook rank: 22
Kauffman Foundation Index of Entrepreneurial Activity (2012) rank: 31
Total Nonfarm Employment Percentage Growth (2013): 17
Economic-development contact: North Carolina Department of Commerce, 919/733-4151, www.nccommerce.com; Sharon Allred Decker, Secretary of Commerce

No. 5South Carolina

South Carolina managed to boost its highway-infrastructure spending greatly last year without overly taxing business. Still, its tax appeal remained middling while its job growth was strong.

Governor: Nikki Haley (Republican)
Tax Foundation rank: 37
ALEC-Laffer Economic Outlook rank: 31
Kauffman Foundation Index of Entrepreneurial Activity (2012) rank: 16
Total Nonfarm Employment Percentage Growth (2013): 8
Economic-development contact: South Carolina Department of Commerce, 803/737-0400, www.sccommerce.com; Robert M. Hitt III, Secretary of Commerce

No. 6Indiana

Pressed its case as the most business-friendly state in the Midwest by trimming several more types of taxes. Meanwhile, its 2012 flip to right-to-work makes Indiana attractive to manufacturers.

Governor: Mitch Pence (Republican)
Tax Foundation rank: 10
ALEC-Laffer Economic Outlook rank: 14
Kauffman Foundation Index of Entrepreneurial Activity (2012) rank: 32
Total Nonfarm Employment Percentage Growth (2013): 12
Economic-development contact: Indiana Economic Development Corp., 800/463-8081, www.iedc.in.gov; Victor Smith, Secretary of Commerce

No. 7Arizona

Siting of huge Apple plant in the state juices job-growth machine that remains a top performer. Arizona also is an across-the-board ranking leader in various aspects of business friendliness.

Governor: Jan Brewer (Republican)
Tax Foundation rank: 22
ALEC-Laffer Economic Outlook rank: 6
Kauffman Foundation Index of Entrepreneurial Activity (2012) rank: 20
Total Nonfarm Employment Percentage Growth (2013): 7
Economic-development contact: Arizona Commerce Authority, 602/845-1200, www.azcommerce.com; Sandra Watson, President & CEO

No. 8Nevada

Relative job growth slides as Nevada’s education-funding initiative threatens progress. But it capped off decade of experiencing the largest positive change in any state’s entrepreneurial activity rate.

Governor: Brian Sandoval (Republican)
Tax Foundation rank: 3
ALEC-Laffer Economic Outlook rank: 13
Kauffman Foundation Index of Entrepreneurial Activity (2012) rank: 10
Total Nonfarm Employment Percentage Growth (2013): 11
Economic-development contact: Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, 800/336-1600, www.diversifynevada.com; Steve Hill, Director

No. 9Louisiana

Its high-tech side emerges by landing major IBM site for Baton Rouge, and entrepreneurism grows. But Louisiana still mostly lags rest of top 10 “Best States” in tax-friendliness.

Governor: Bobby Jindal (Republican)
Tax Foundation rank: 33
ALEC-Laffer Economic Outlook rank: 28
Kauffman Foundation Index of Entrepreneurial Activity (2012) rank: 10
Total Nonfarm Employment Percentage Growth (2013): 9
Economic-development contact: Louisiana Economic Development, 800/450-8115, www.OpportunityLouisiana.com; Stephen Moret, Secretary

No. 10Georgia

The state legislature passed significant workers-compensation reform that cut costs for business. Vibrant relative job growth boosted Georgia’s standing as well.

Governor: Nathan Deal (Republican)
Tax Foundation rank: 32
ALEC-Laffer Economic Outlook rank: 8
Kauffman Foundation Index of Entrepreneurial Activity (2012) rank: 30
Total Nonfarm Employment Percentage Growth (2013): 5
Economic-development contact: Georgia Department of Economic Development; 404/962-4000, www.georgia.org; Chris Carr, Commissioner

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