Virginia was ranked the nation's top state for business, according to a study by CNBC, the organization announced Tuesday.
CNBC Special Correspondent Scott Cohn made the announcement Tuesday morning live from Port of Virginia in Norfolk. North Carolina, Utah, Texas and Tennessee rounded out the Top 5.
This is the fifth time Virginia has claimed the top spot in the America’s Top State for Business study, having previously taken the title in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2019 — more times than any other state, according to network officials.
Virginia performed well in the critical categories of Education (No. 2) and Workforce (No. 3). High-performing high school students feed a well-funded higher education system. That, in turn, has helped Virginia assemble one of the most educated workforces in the nation.
“This year’s Top States study was always going to be a verdict on which states were best poised to succeed coming out of the pandemic, and Virginia is a clear winner on that score,” Cohn said in a prepared statement.
“Not only does it have the talent that companies are craving, it has also taken major steps in the area of inclusiveness, which is especially important this year,” he said. “But perhaps the best evidence of Virginia’s competitive strength is the fact that it was our Top State before the pandemic in 2019, and is back on top coming out of it.”
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) joined CNBC in Norfolk following an extensive study of 85 distinct metrics across 10 competitiveness categories.
He said the pragmatic, forward-looking policies that propelled the commonwealth to reclaim the top spot in 2019 helped make Virginia the first state to win back-to-back titles in CNBC’s ranking.
“Virginia continues to be the best place to do business because of our world-class education institutions, talented workforce, and shared commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion,” Northam said in a prepared statement.
“I am proud of what this coveted recognition says about the policies we have put in place and how they are driving growth and innovation across our commonwealth,” he said. “Our success is a blueprint for creating a vibrant economic climate in the post-pandemic world — and proves that when you lift everyone up, when you treat people right, and when you celebrate diversity, it’s also good for business.”
States can earn a maximum of 2,500 points across the 10 categories, and Virginia received a total of 1,587 points. A number of state and federal lawmakers responded to the announcement.
“Go Virginia,” U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said in a tweet.
Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.-10th), added her on praise on Twitter, writing, “Virginia is the #1 state to do business.”
“With Democrats in control, we’ve made major investments in public education, our workforce, and equity that are improving the lives of families across Virginia,” she said.
"For the third year in a row, something that no other state has been able to achieve, Virginia is America's Top State for Business in 2021 by @CNBC's annual ranking," Del. Suhas Subramanyam (D-87th) tweeted. "We can pass measures to protect workers and still be #1 for business!"
Northam’s office said the commonwealth has created nearly 90,000 new jobs and secured more than $45.4 billion in statewide capital investment, including approximately $7 billion in distressed communities since he took office in January 2018. With investments from global leaders like Amazon, Facebook, and Micron, and companies of all sizes choosing to locate or expand their operations in Virginia, businesses continue to recognize the Virginia’s competitive advantages, the office said.
Virginia has also made historic investments in early childhood education, increased funding for historically Black colleges and universities, and worked to expand degree programs in computer science and technology at public higher education institutions to help meet the increased demand for tech talent, a release from the Governor’s office states. Virginia’s workforce investments also include the new G3 program, which launched this month and makes tuition-free community college and financial support for other expenses available to low- and middle-income students who pursue jobs in high-demand fields.
Investing in infrastructure has been an essential component of Virginia’s ongoing work to create economic opportunity, facilitate commerce, and improve the quality of life, the release states. This includes improvements to the heavily traveled I-81 corridor, an expansion project that will once again make the Port of Virginia the deepest port on the East Coast, and the Transforming Rail in Virginia initiative to build a 21st-century statewide rail network across the Commonwealth.
The Northam Administration said it has also put a strong focus on advancing policies that make Virginia more welcoming and inclusive, ensure people are treated fairly and equitably, and make it as easy as possible for Virginians to participate in democracy.