State Rankings


The much anticipated’s CEO survey of the best states to do business was unveiled in the May/June issue and Tennessee came in 4th for the second year.  Tennessee was outpaced by Texas, Florida and North Carolina.  Whereas good rankings are useful for relocation pitch books and State pride, the strengths of numbers 1 through 3 merit close attention.

The article, which can be found on, asserts the normal issues of taxation, regulation and education as the primary drivers for winning a high ranking.  Here are a few tidbits from the other states and then I want to delve into some Tennessee issues:

  1. Florida created 140,000 private sector jobs upon the reforming of tax and regulations by Gov. Rick Scott, the state’s unemployment rate dropped by 2.1 percentage points.
  2. Most of the top 20 states are Right to Work states.
  3. Of the top four, only North Carolina has a State Income Tax.
  4. The top three have excellent institutions of higher learning (Rice, Vanderbilt, Texas, Duke, UNC, Florida, etc…)
  5. Texas, the shining star, has deployed over $442mm in public funds for business recruitment since 2003 and still has $178mm available for future recruitment. 

So here we are in Tennessee, rather than discussing the positive aspects of a high ranking, where do we need to improve?

  1. The major universities across the state (UT, MTSU, UTC, Vanderbilt, Memphis) need to develop programs to cater to the growing industries.  Texas is widely mentioned for its recruitment of technology firms due to the university system.
  2. The State government should work hand in hand with all municipalities for business recruitment.  Nashville has been the shining example in Tennessee due to a strong Chamber, Chattanooga has grown due to an active citizen base….perhaps Knoxville and Memphis need to improve and promote proactively with the State?
  3. Elementary and High School education improvements must continue and go hand in hand with the remarkable improvements within the state university system.

It is great to be in the top 4, but there is no room for complacency. 

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About Cornerstone Index

Cushman & Wakefield | Cornerstone Nashville | Chattanooga | Knoxville

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