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CEOs Rank the Best and Worst States for Business in 2016

Which U.S. states are the best for business? If you ask corporate CEOs, the answer is Texas and and Florida.

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Which U.S. states are the best for business? If you ask corporate CEOs, the answer is Texas and and Florida.

That’s according to the annual Best & Worst States for Business survey from Chief Executive magazine, which queried CEOs on a range of quantitative and qualitative factors. North Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana complete the top five of the rankings. Ranking categories include quality of life, tax policy, workforce quality, and best communication of business incentives. Regional rankings are also offered.

Top 5 States

State (with CEO comments)

  1. Texas – “Has their act together; government workers go out of their way to [help] businesses comply and follow the laws.”
  2. Florida – “The state has aggressively moved ahead on key issues like rebuilding ports without waiting on federal support.”
  3. North Carolina – “Strong technical and university support…also  great quality of life aspects for work and home life.”
  4. Tennessee – “Has stable leadership and a ‘can do’ attitude toward recruiting and retaining major business.”
  5. Indiana – “Consistently ranked in the top 3 in offering … competitive incentives for business [and] packages that improve the skill sets to hire a qualified, work-ready workforce.”


Best of …

Best state for quality of life:



Best state for workforce quality:



State with lowest taxation:



Best communication of business incentives:



State that advanced the most since 2015:

Ohio (from 22 to number 10)


“This has been a particularly volatile year,” said Marshall Cooper, CEO of Chief Executive magazine and “Business leaders are challenged with everything from the growing talent shortage and skills gap to digital transformation to discerning how the presidential election will impact their business.” This year’s rankings, Cooper said, “show that CEOs support states that understand and offer solutions to those challenges.”

“Business-friendly states work hard to maintain a competitive environment,” added J.P. Donlon, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Chief Executive magazine and “Many governors have gotten openly proactive about trying to steal business away from other states, and this new ‘war’ game has every economic development team on alert.”

The full 2016 Best & Worst States for Business survey is available online, including individual state rankings, CEO comments, methodology and more: