August 16, 2006

Kevin Hall
(804) 225-4260

-Forbes survey ranks taxes, education, bond rating, regulatory climate -

RICHMOND - Governor Timothy M. Kaine announced today that Virginia placed first among the 50 states in a new ranking of the "Best States for Business" by, the official Internet site of the Forbes family of business publications. The review, published today, included consideration of multiple objective measurements, including business cost, regulatory climate, quality of the workforce, and economic growth.

“To compile our listing of the best states for business, we ranked all 50 states on 30 metrics in six main categories: business costs, economic climate, growth prospects, labor, quality of life and regulatory environment. The data produced a clear No. 1. The Commonwealth of Virginia takes the crown in our first ever ranking of Top States for Business,” Forbes reports.
Texas was ranked second, followed by North Carolina, Utah, and Colorado. Idaho, Nebraska, Delaware, Florida, and Georgia rounded out the Forbes’ top ten.

"This best-in-the-nation designation by a respected business publication such as Forbes validates all of our hard work to diversify our economy, educate the workforce, provide support for existing businesses, and our constant efforts to strike the appropriate balance with low taxes and responsible regulations," Governor Kaine said. "We will showcase this latest honor as another example of Virginia leading the way with quality schools, a vibrant and well-balanced economy, an outstanding workforce, and excellent quality of life for our citizens and our corporate partners."

Forbes studied business costs (cost of labor, energy, and taxes), labor issues (educational attainment, net migration, and projected population growth), regulatory climate (regulatory and tort environment, incentives, and bond ratings), economic climate (job, income, and gross state product growth, as well as unemployment and corporate headquarter relocations), growth prospects (projected job, income, and gross state product growth, as well as announced business openings and closings), and quality of life (index of schools, health, crime, cost of living, and poverty rates).

“Virginia scored well across the board. In fact, it ranked in the top ten in all six big categories we looked at. No other state scored in the top ten in more than three categories,” Forbes reported.

"By virtually every indicator, the Commonwealth is on the right track to lead the way," Governor Kaine said. "Today I reaffirm our pledge to continue working in a bipartisan way with our Legislature to build on Virginia’s reputation as a national leader.”

“This ranking from Forbes confirms that what we’ve been doing for the past decade and more – keeping the tax burden as competitively low as possible, ensuring regulations are reasonable, encouraging risk-taking entrepreneurs, and promoting our educated workforce – is paying dividends for Virginia businesses and benefiting hard-working Virginians and their families,” noted Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell. “Even more heartening than this recognition is the fact that the seeds of free enterprise are continuing to grow in Virginia. That bodes well for an opportunity filled future that is even more thriving and prosperous than what we now enjoy.”

"Much of the progress toward this goal can be credited to Virginia’s most valued asset, which are her people. They are well-educated, forward thinking, and when combined with a government that looks to the future, it isn't surprising that Virginia is so honored by this award,” said Virginia Senate President John H. Chichester. “I am extraordinarily proud to be a Virginian, and to have worked with other legislators and the Executive Branch of government to achieve this high honor."

Today’s Forbes’ ranking is the latest in a series of recent accolades offered by national publications and organizations:

• In May 2006, Forbes placed five Virginia metropolitan areas in the nation’s top 165 "Best Places for Business:" Northern Virginia (#17), Richmond (#41), Virginia Beach (#48), Lynchburg (#109), and Roanoke (#165).

• Also in May, Forbes designated five Virginia localities among the nation’s top 165 "Best Small Places for Business:" Charlottesville (#32), Winchester (#39), Harrisonburg (#53), Blacksburg (#65), and Danville (#162).

• In May 2006, Newsweek magazine listed 18 Virginia schools as among the 150 best high schools in the nation.

• In April 2006, the non-profit, nonpartisan Tax Foundation ranked Virginia 41st among the states in state and local tax burden, with only nine states able to claim a lower tax burden.

• Also in April, the Council on State Taxation (COST), a non-profit trade association, released an Ernst & Young study of total business tax collections in relation to their percentage of the gross state product, and ranked Virginia lowest in the nation. The Commonwealth tied with North Carolina and Delaware.

• In March 2006, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce designated the five top states for overall legal fairness as Delaware, Nebraska, Virginia, Iowa, and Connecticut.

• In March 2006, corporate relocation experts Pollina Real Estate, Inc., ranked Virginia as the second most business friendly state in the nation. The Pollina study evaluated 29 factors, including tax burden.


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