Friday, October 15, 2010

Reporter's Notebook

Nick Shannon Kulmac can be reached at

Forbes ranks Washington fifth best state for business

From the weekend box office to the world of college football, everyone loves a good ranking. And by the looks of it, the folks at Forbes agree. Earlier this week, the financial news magazine published their annual list of “The Best States For Business And Careers.”

Forbes said the ranking measures six vital categories for businesses: costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. Business costs, which include labor, energy and taxes, are weighted the most heavily.

So how did Washington stack up? Pretty well, overall.

The evergreen state came in at number five, thanks in part to a strong labor supply, regulatory environment and positive growth prospect.

If you buy into these rankings or not, it should be noted that Washington was number two on the list last year. When that number came out, Governor Chris Gregoire was quick to respond.

“The ranking showcases the collaborative work of state and local agencies to promote economic development and grow jobs throughout Washington,” Gregoire said last year. “But make no mistake, we are not resting on our laurels. I pledge to continue to work closely with state, business and labor leaders to further improve our competitiveness climate and become the best state in the nation to do business.”

Time will tell whether the governor weighs in on this year’s list. In the meantime, let’s examine why we slipped to number five. Forbes said Washington’s economic climate was down slightly, but what really hurt us were business costs (28th) and quality of life (29th).

Not everyone in the northwest lost a spot or two on the list. Oregon jumped from number ten last year, to number six this year. And reaching out of the northwest, Utah received the top ranking for the first time. Virginia and North Carolina rounded out the top three.