North Carolina tops list of states for economic development despite controversy

by WorldTribune Staff, May 7, 2017

Despite impassioned denunciations and economic boycotts from entertainers and the world of corporate sports over House Bill 2, North Carolina has been ranked No. 1 in the country for economic development by Site Selection magazine.

On Gov. Pat McCrory’s watch last year, North Carolina was ranked No. 1 in economic development. / AP

The ranking “may confound those who had written off the Tar Heel State as a business-climate backwater” after House Bill 2 became law in March 2016, the magazine said, according to a May 5 report by the Raleigh News & Observer.

North Carolina’s No. 1 rating for 2017 is based on 2016 data. Last year the state tied with Texas for the No. 1 spot in the magazine’s Prosperity Cup ranking.

In March, Gov. Roy Cooper signed a law that replaced HB2. The new law includes provisions which include a prohibition on local governments from regulating public accommodations before Dec. 1, 2020. That provision has drawn criticism from the LGBT community and others.

Even when HB2 was still on the books, however, Site Selection found North Carolina’s economic outlook was bright.

The magazine noted that the state had “one of the most educated workforces in the U.S.; a temperate climate; two international airports, including a major hub for American Airlines at Charlotte, which is also a top financial center; … coastal ports; a desirable mid-Atlantic location; top research universities and community colleges and a 3 percent corporate income tax rate – the lowest such rate east of the Mississippi other than Ohio, which imposes a gross receipts tax in lieu of corporate income tax.”

Site Selection also issues an annual Site Selection Governor’s Cup that ranks the states based on the number of economic development projects they win. North Carolina ranked 4th in 2016 for the total number of projects and 7th in number of projects per capita.