For the third straight year, Virginia has been named the Best State for Business by Forbes.
Virginia ranked 7th in labor supply, 6th in quality of life, and 6th in economic climate. It was also ranked 1st for regulatory environment, thanks in part to the second-best incentive programs in the country. Only two other states, Georgia and Washington, finished in the top 10 in four of the six categories examined by Forbes.
Other reasons for the high ranking include energy costs 30% below the national average and an educated work force thanks to strong in-state colleges and proximity to Washington, D.C.
Virginia has held on to the top spot since the first Best State rankings came out in 2006. However, the gap at the top has gotten smaller since then, and Virginia narrowly edged out Utah for the top spot this year. The five top states (Virginia, Utah, Washington, North Carolina, and Georgia) were all closely bunched together at the top of the rankings.
Forbes said that higher labor costs and business costs in Virginia may be to blame for a lack of breathing room at the top. But the biggest factor closing the gap is lower growth projections for the next five years. Virginia’s growth prospects ranking was 26th, as expectations lowered for growth in jobs, income, and gross state product.