North Carolina now ranks No. 4 among the nation’s top-performing states in the 2021 Best and Worst States for Business survey conducted by Chief Executive magazine.

For the latest report, Chief Executive surveyed 383 CEOs across the country in March about their opinions of all 50 states. The results were released today.

North Carolina rose two spots from its No. 6 ranking in 2020. But this year isn’t the first time the Tar Heel state has been a top-five choice of business leaders surveyed. In 2019, North Carolina ranked fourth in the nationwide survey of CEOs and in 2018 it tied for third with one other state.

“Our top-tier ranking in the Chief Executive magazine survey is more great news, right on the heels of Apple announcing North Carolina as the home of its first East Coast campus, which will bring $1 billion in new investment and 3,000 new jobs to the state,” said Christopher Chung, chief executive officer of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

“We’re grateful to add this recognition to others North Carolina has achieved in major business rankings, including being No. 1 on Forbes’ Best States for Business list three years in a row.”

In addition to asking CEOs for their view of all states, the survey also explored their site selection priorities. The criteria they valued most included tax policy (37 percent ranked it first), regulatory climate (35 percent) and talent availability (25 percent), according to Chief Executive magazine.

The survey also found more CEOs open to a post-COVID change of location. Forty-four percent of those surveyed reported they’re “more open than before to examining new locations” for their business, while 34 percent said they’re “considering shifting [or] opening significant operations [or] facilities in a new state,” according to the magazine.

The top states in Chief Executive’s latest survey of CEOs are Texas, followed by Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina and Indiana. The worst place, according to the survey, is No. 50 California, bested slightly by No. 49 New York, No. 48 Illinois, No. 47 New Jersey, No. 46 Washington and No. 45 Massachusetts. High costs remained a factor for the lowest-performing states.

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