Site Selection Planning Guide, Pt. 2 - Global Trade Magazine
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  June 13th, 2016 | Written by

Site Selection Planning Guide, Pt. 2

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  • Site Selection State-By-State Directory
  • Looking for The Right State For Your Site Selection Needs?
  • State-By-State Planning Guide Pt. 2

As exporters, the readers of Global Trade are stewards of businesses that grow faster than those concerned only with the domestic market. That growth, and the need to strategically position in areas nearer to the ports and airports that can access the global marketplace, means that exporters are going to have a greater, more frequent need for new supply-chain space. As you plot your next facility, we’ve created this two-part Site Selection Planning Guide as the most direct summary of the best each state has to offer.

With a special emphasis on export assistance, tax and manufacturing incentives and workforce training programs, this guide cuts through the noise to distill the useful tools and most attractive qualities of each state. The report also gives a snapshot of workforce, tax burden and top logistics infrastructure, providing an at-a-glance profile of the states’ business environment. Completing each profile is an interview with a state business leader—be it a CEO of an exporting firm, a secretary of commerce or even the governor—giving an account of how you can benefit from locating in each state.

This second part of our annual Site Selection Planning Guide presents the last half of the states in alphabetical order, with the 25 covered in our April/May issue now online at www.globaltrademag.com. For further research, you can visit the Site Selection section of Global Trade 101 on our website, where you can search and compare economic development organizations throughout the country.

MONTANA

STATE PROFILE: Population: 1.03 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 6.75% :: 2015 Export Total: $1.38 billion :: Right To Work State: No

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 522,300 :: High School Diploma or Higher: 92.4% :: Bachelors or Higher: 29.1% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 8.4%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. I-90 :: 2. Billings Logan International Airport :: 3. BNSF

Believe it or not, one misconception that Montana battles is just how beautiful and livable the state is. Economic officials know that certain companies assume it’s all mountain biking and Big Sky but not business. Nothing could be further from the truth, just ask the likes of Boeing, Oracle and GlaxoSmithKline, all of which have located and expanded in the state. One reason is Montana is regularly ranked among the best-run states, meaning no multi-billion dollar debt looking to be paid down on the backs of business. Another is a workforce that is well trained through training and apprenticeship programs that have streamlined the certification process for professions so that workers can work toward their certificate while still attending high school. The training has been so successful that state officials have been told by the likes of their biggest corporate citizens that “we’ll keep expanding as long as you keep supplying this workforce.” And it’s a workforce that companies figure to be able to retain because, yes, Montana is a beautiful, livable place—a  place that has one of the shortest average commute times in the nation, 15 minutes, though officials are quick to point out that average includes those who walk to work.

WHY MONTANA?

JOHN ROGERS

Chief Business Development Officer, Office of Economic Development

Because a lot of people think of us as a playground for the nation, I think we are underappreciated for what a good place we are for business. If you’re looking for a place with a high quality of life that’s not going to cost you an arm and a leg and a workforce with very low turnover and education system that generates high quality workers. If you’re looking for a place where you will not be making money just to pay taxes, because Montana has the most efficient state government with a $100 million surplus, and if you’re looking for a partner going forward and not an adversary—we’re regularly ranked in the top 10 nationally in business friendliness—then you should think about Montana.

NEBRASKA

STATE PROFILE: Population: 1.89 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 5.58-7.81% ($50,000+) :: 2015 Export Total: $6.55 billion :: Right To Work State: Yes

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 1.01 million :: High School Diploma or Higher: 90.5% :: Bachelors or Higher: 29% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 8.8%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. Union Pacific Bailey Yard, North Platte :: 2. I-80 :: 3. Eppley Airfield, Omaha

If all you think of when you hear Nebraska and business is corn and Warren Buffet, you should know that the state has a diverse and well-performing industry base that includes clusters in biosolutions, tech, transportation logistics and advanced manufacturing. Companies big—Berkshire Hathaway, ConAgra, Union Pacific Railroad and TD Ameritrade—and small are attracted to and stay in the state because of Nebraska’s rock-ribbed stability. It ranked fourth among states in the Mercatus Center’s ranking of states by fiscal condition because of the lowest ratio of long-term liabilities to assets of any state. Nebraska also has low levels of unfunded pension liabilities and revenues exceed expenses. The cost of doing business is low (more than 7 percent under the national average) and is further helped by incentives such as the Nebraska Advantage Package, which are comprehensive economic development incentives that meet the needs of expanding and relocating businesses. The package includes benefits for large data center projects, in addition to a 10-year personal property tax exemption for those projects. While your vision of Nebraska may include cornfields that stretch to the horizon, the fact is that more than 55 million people/customers/suppliers live within a 500-mile radius of the state.

WHY NEBRASKA?

BILL POP

Human Resources Manager, Veyance Technologies

The Nebraska Department of Economic Development Customized Job Training Grant enabled us to train in excess of 450 employees in 24 hours of leadership training. This was integral to our decision to move forward with a planned $12 million investment in our facility. As a result, we were able to add 100 quality jobs to the Lincoln facility from the recession low. We continue to move our Team Based Self Directed Work Group concept forward, building on the sound foundation the grant allowed us to establish. We hope this effort will continue to add jobs at our facility and, more importantly, secure the jobs we currently have in place.

NEVADA

STATE PROFILE: Population: 2.89 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 0 :: 2015 Export Total: $8.65 billion :: Right To Work State: Yes

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 1.43 million :: High School Diploma or Higher: 84.9% :: Bachelors or Higher: 22.5% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 7.6%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. McCarran International Airport :: 2. I-15 :: 3. Reno/Tahoe International Airport

The rest of the world got an inkling of how aggressive and committed Nevada officials are to attracting new business when they basically outbid/out-incentivized the rest of the U.S. in getting Tesla to build its Gigafactory in the northern part of the state. Though it garnered a lot of attention, it was nothing new in a state regularly ranked in the national top 10 when it comes to new business launches and creating a business-friendly environment. And that environment now includes much more than the industries most closely associated with the state: construction and hospitality. State officials are emphasizing diversification and expanding the state’s economy into high tech—witness the opening of a Microsoft-led technology partnership and business incubator near Las Vegas. Fueling this new economy are tried and true incentives that include no personal income tax, no inventory, estate, franchise or inheritance taxes and one of the lowest costs to incorporate in the country. And then there is the fact that few states can match Nevada for its location, which puts it within a day’s drive of more than 60 million people and five major ports serving the Pacific Rim, as well as being the destination of choice for more than 40 million visitors annually.

WHY NEVADA?

STEPHEN MILLER

Director, Center for Business and Economic Research, UNLV

The location in relation to Southwest markets, excellent connections by air flights, excellent weather, lower levels of government regulation and lower taxes. [The state also offers] tax abatements, grants for employee training and employee hiring incentives. Nevada’s economy is on the verge of a transformation, with Tesla, Switch and others in the north and Faraday Future, Switch, Hyperloop and others in the south. You need to get on the bandwagon as Nevada diversifies its economy. Be a part of that process.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

STATE PROFILE: Population: 1.33 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 8.5% :: 2015 Export Total: $4 billion :: Right To Work State: No

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 744,200 :: High School Diploma or Higher: 92% :: Bachelors or Higher: 34.4% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 11.2%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. Port of Portsmouth :: 2. Portsmouth International Airport :: 3. I-93

It’s not hard to see why the Granite State would be so attractive to business. Not only does it have one of the highest concentrations of college-educated adults in the nation, it also ranks high nationally for the number of people employed in science and technology. Combine that with the state’s recently launched “Live Free and Start,” an award-winning initiative which walks entrepreneurs through the steps of forming and funding a business while laying out available state resources and mapping out incubators in the state, and innovative businesses are not only given a good chance to launch but also to grow and prosper. And then there’s New Hampshire’s proximity to major markets in the Northeast—45 minutes from Boston’s Logan International Airport—and Canada, plus a healthy inventory of low-cost industrial and office space for lease or sale. But perhaps the state’s most attractive asset is what it doesn’t have: personal income tax, sales tax, use tax, capital gains tax, inventory tax, estate tax … zilch on all accounts. One of the lowest tax burdens in the country and a smart workforce attracted by a high quality of life is why organizations such as the Tax Foundation rank New Hampshire high (No. 7) as one of the best states in which to do business.

WHY NEW HAMPSHIRE?

MAGGIE HASSAN

Governor, New Hampshire

For the third year in a row, New Hampshire was ranked as the strongest state in the union based on more than a dozen measures of our economy, the safety of our communities and our quality of life, and the Tax Foundation listed our state as having the seventh best business-tax climate in the nation. We have revitalized our Office of International Commerce, which works closely with a network of agencies that have the expertise to assist businesses in export promotion and import inquiries, helping to make our businesses leaders in distributing goods and services across the globe. As a place where citizen engagement and economic success are intertwined, and with the resources to help businesses thrive and the natural beauty that makes it a great place to call home, New Hampshire remains one of the best places to start or grow a business.

NEW JERSEY

STATE PROFILE: Population: 8.95 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 9% :: 2015 Export Total: $32.07 billion :: Right To Work State: No

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 4.57 million :: High School Diploma or Higher: 88.4% :: Bachelors or Higher: 36.4% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 12.9%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. Port of New York/New Jersey :: 2. Newark Liberty International Airport :: 3. CSX

The state just enjoyed its best economic recovery year since the Great Recession of 2008, adding nearly 56,000 jobs—the vast amount in the private sector. New Jersey has now recovered more than 90 percent of jobs lost in the economic meltdown. Also coming back are jobs in manufacturing, real estate sectors and distribution logistics. Helping to smooth that recovery is the state Economic Development Agency (EDA) and such incentives as the Small Business Fund that features an expedited approval process and provides up to $500,000 in low-cost financing to qualified businesses and not-for-profits through direct loans, participations or guarantees with a fixed-interest rate. The agency regularly partners with financial institutions, local organizations and other state agencies to help borrowers bridge financing gaps and increase their access to capital. This includes offering low-interest loans, bond financing and support for micro-lenders to increase their lending capacity and the technical assistance and training services they offer. In 2015 alone, the EDA supported over 250 projects with more than $443.5 million in assistance, leveraging an estimated $669 million in total public/private investment and the creation of more than 1,400 new jobs across the state.

WHY NEW JERSEY?

MELISSA ORSEN

CEO, New Jersey Economic Development Authority

It’s encouraging to see such a diverse group of businesses recognizing benefits of financing options offered by the state. Small businesses and not-for-profits create jobs and provide valuable resources to our residents and communities. We encourage business owners to contact us to learn more about how the state can support their growth. From low-interest loans either directly or through one of EDA’s lending partners, to training and technical assistance services, to supporting the expansion and long-term growth of small businesses and not-for-profit organizations, we are positioned to help businesses in all stages grow.

NEW MEXICO

STATE PROFILE: Population: 2.08 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 6.9% :: 2015 Export Total: $3.77 billion :: Right To Work State: No

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 918,700 :: High School Diploma or Higher: 84% :: Bachelors or Higher: 26.1% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 10.4%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. Albuquerque International Airport :: 2. Union Pacific :: 3. I-25

A recent study ranked New Mexico as the most competitive state for manufacturing in the Southwest because of such enhancements as a corporate tax rate that will be reduced 22 percent by 2018. The reduction is intended to stimulate activity and, indeed, the state has seen a significant rise in its number of startups, ranking in the top five in that category, ahead of the likes of Texas and California. Manufacturers may elect an optional Single Sales Factor and apportion income tax to weight in-state sales. The phased-in elimination of gross receipts taxes on consumables including electricity and industrial gases used in the production process further reduces costs for manufacturers. And then there are energy costs that are significantly lower than New Mexico’s neighboring competitor states. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, New Mexico’s industrial electric rates are 7 percent below the national and regional averages. All of that has made the state more competitive in international commerce; it’s a national leader in exports job growth as well as women-owned businesses. In fact, Santa Fe, where women own more than a third of businesses, has been ranked first in the nation in that category.

WHY NEW MEXICO?

SUSANA MARTINEZ

Governor, New Mexico

Since 2011, we’ve cut the business tax rate by 22 percent, ended double and triple taxation on manufacturers, adopted a single sales factor, and curbed tax pyramiding. Our efforts aren’t going unnoticed. Last fall, Kiplinger ranked New Mexico the 8th most tax-friendly state in America, and Ernst & Young reported that our manufacturing tax burden has dropped 60 percent, from third-worst in the region to the best in the West. Now, CNBC ranks New Mexico the 24th Top State for Business, up from 37th—an increase of 13 spots—a tie for the biggest jump in the country, and up from 43rd when I first took office.

NEW YORK

STATE PROFILE: Population: 19.79 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 7.1% :: 2015 Export Total: $80 billion :: Right To Work State: No

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 9.8 million :: High School Diploma or Higher: 92.4% :: Bachelors or Higher: 29.1% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 14%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. Port of New York/New Jersey :: 2. John F. Kennedy International Airport :: 3. I-87

The state’s middle class tax rate is at its lowest since 1953 and its tax rate for corporate manufacturers has been lowered from 5.9 percent to a much more manageable zero. Nada. Zilch. New York ranks second among all states with adults who have four or more years of college and second for the highest number of scientists and engineers, creating a talent pool that helps the state be exceptionally strong in academic research and development and innovation. In fact, the state ranks second nationally in academic R&D expenditures and has built on that with Start-Up NY, which offers new and expanding businesses the opportunity to operate tax-free for 10 years on or near eligible university or college campuses in the state. Partnering with these schools gives businesses direct access to advanced research laboratories, development resources and experts in key industries. The Recharge NY program allows long-term, seven-year low-cost energy contracts for manufacturers and other qualifying businesses. In that regard, not only does New York have some of the lowest natural gas rates but it also ranks highly in wind and clean technology patenting.

WHY NEW YORK?

ANDREW CUOMO

Governor, New York

The fundamental role for government should be to develop the economy, because if the economy is running, and jobs are coming in, people have opportunity. Our work four years ago began with bringing down the cost of doing business in New York—and we did, with the lower income taxes for every single New Yorker and the lowest manufacturing tax in nearly a century. Today is about opening new markets to the state and we will aggressively market the state and share with the global business community that there is no better place, with no better tools and resources, than the Empire State to grow and compete.

NORTH CAROLINA

STATE PROFILE: Population: 10.04 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 4% :: 2015 Export Total: $30 billion :: Right To Work State: Yes

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 4.8 million :: High School Diploma or Higher: 85.4% :: Bachelors or Higher: 27.8% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 9.5%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. Charlotte-Douglas Int’l Airport :: 2. Port of Wilmington :: 3. Raleigh-Durham Int’l Airport

North Carolina has created the fastest-growing economy in the nation since 2013—with a GDP that has increased 13.4 percent over that time—by going low: Metropolitan area construction and electricity costs 18 and 9 percent below the national average, respectively, and low labor costs are attributable to the nation’s second-lowest unionization rate. That rapidly growing workforce—the state adds residents at a rate of nearly 300 a day—have access to 53 colleges and universities, including three Tier 1 research universities and a nationally recognized 58-campus community college system which, through the NC Works program, helps advanced manufacturers meet their immediate workforce needs by providing customized training on the latest equipment and processes at little or no cost to employers. The state’s discretionary Job Development Incentive Grant (JDIG) program provides annual tax reimbursements to new and expanding businesses that meet their job creation and investment targets. In late 2015, state lawmakers greatly enhanced the JDIG incentive by increasing the annual spending cap by one-third and allowing the limit to rise much higher if the state lands a “high yield” project that will employ at least 1,750 and invest at least $500 million. The One North Carolina Fund enables the governor to quickly approve cash grants when more than one state is competing for a project that creates new jobs.

WHY NORTH CAROLINA?

CHRISTOPHER CHUNG

CEO, Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina

North Carolina consistently places among the top 10 states in respected third-party rankings of its workforce development, business costs, tax climate, legal and regulatory environment, quality of life, educational and R&D resources. Our strongest appeal to new and expanding companies is our commitment to keeping it that way. The state’s leadership has given North Carolina the lowest corporate income tax in the nation, significantly enhanced incentives available to large-scale manufacturers, committed $100 million to enabling the Port of Wilmington to accommodate multiple Post-Panamax container ships, and successfully pursued passage of the Connect NC Bond Initiative that will invest $980 million in STEM-focused infrastructure at our universities and $350 million in our community colleges.

NORTH DAKOTA

STATE PROFILE: Population: 756,927 :: Corporate Tax Rate: 4.31% ($50,000+) :: 2015 Export Total: $3.8 billion :: Right To Work State: Yes

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 417,400 :: High School Diploma or Higher: 91.3% :: Bachelors or Higher: 27.3% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 7.6%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. I-29 :: 2. BNSF :: 3. Grand Forks International Airport

Befitting a state where the landscape recalls the potential of the frontier, North Dakota has gained a reputation for attracting, encouraging and supporting emerging businesses and entrepreneurs. The state’s growing manufacturing, technology and service-based industries help balance an economy that was long dependent on agricultural and energy. That wasn’t by happenstance—the state legislature has provided more than $2.4 billion in tax cuts and North Dakota has specifically designed its business and investment programs to deliver high quality service in an expedited manner, providing capital required to support a company’s start-up, expansion or relocation, much of that done through the only state-owned bank in the U.S., the Bank of North Dakota. The state’s efforts have been recognized by 24/7 Wall Street, which has dubbed it the “Best Run State,” and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which recognized it as the top performing state since 2000. The proof of those efforts and accolades can be seen in the emergence and triple-figure growth of companies such as Evolution1 (health) and SB&B Foods, among the fastest-growing companies in the U.S., and by rising job growth and wages that rank fifth in the nation when adjusted for cost of living.

WHY NORTH DAKOTA?

PAUL LUCY

Director, North Dakota Economic Development and Finance Division

North Dakota offers a culture of success with a robust entrepreneur ecosystem along with a business-operating environment that enhances a company’s ability to hold a stronger competitive position in the global marketplace. The State of North Dakota recognizes that successful businesses provide opportunities for the residents of the state to be successful and thrive. Those ideals to support our diversified business base get put into action, as evidenced by the fact that the North Dakota legislature has provided over $2.4 billion in tax cuts since 2009, has been recognized by 24/7 Wall Street as the “Best Run State” for the past three years and has been identified by the U.S. Chamber as the top growth performing state in the nation since 2000.

OHIO

STATE PROFILE: Population: 11.6 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 0 :: 2015 Export Total: $50.6 billion :: Right To Work State: No

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 5.79 million :: High School Diploma or Higher: 88.8% :: Bachelors or Higher: 25.6% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 8.8%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. Port of Cleveland :: 2. I-71 :: 3. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport

Since 2011, Ohio has added more than 425,000 private sector jobs and reduced taxes by $5 billion. Recently recognized by Chief Executive Magazine as having the nation’s most improved business climate, Ohio has a balanced budget with a $2 billion budget surplus, high credit rating, pro-business tax climate and increasing exports that continue to support economic growth. Home to more than 200 higher education institutions, the state’s top teaching and research facilities partner with more than 2,000 companies. That kind of connectivity is partly due to Ohio’s advantageous location within 600 miles of more than half the U.S. and Canadian populations and one day’s drive from more than 60 percent of North America’s manufacturing capacity. Popular, privately funded incentives from JobsOhio for companies looking to locate and expand in the state include the Revitalization program which assists companies redeveloping properties to return them to productive use. The JobsOhio Growth Fund Loan provides early-stage growth financing for companies with proven business models that are generating recurring revenues, achieving cash flow and approaching strong job creation. SiteOhio increases the state’s portfolio of available industrial, manufacturing and commercial locations for companies and site selectors. The Talent Acquisition team and strategy provide an important service tied directly to JobsOhio projects and is customized for each client, creating new jobs with these projects.

WHY OHIO?

KRISTI TANNER

Senior Managing Director, JobsOhio

Since 2011, Ohio has lowered taxes, implemented more sensible regulations, turned a budget deficit into a surplus and achieved financial stability. Additionally, JobsOhio’s privatized development model has contributed to improved performance and the increase in jobs and business investment in the state. Ohio’s business environment, strong workforce, infrastructure and strategic location have all resulted in its diversified industry base, including established sectors like food processing, automotive, IT and advanced materials. Just look at the results: Major job creators—Amazon, Fuyao Glass, IBM, Barclaycard—have all located and grown here. Last year, The Sofidel Group, a world leader in the manufacturing of integrated paper products, selected Ohio for its first greenfield U.S. investment. Biotech companies such as Assurex Health and Enable Injections have also to chosen Ohio as the best place to grow.

OKLAHOMA

STATE PROFILE: Population: 3.91 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 6% :: 2015 Export Total: $5.2 billion :: Right To Work State: Yes

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 1.86 million :: High School Diploma or Higher: 86.7% :: Bachelors or Higher: 23.8% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 7.4%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. I-35 :: 2. Tulsa Port of Catoosa :: 3. Will Rogers World Airport

The Sooner State is more than “OK” with going low. Consider that the cost of doing business in Oklahoma is 10 percent below the national average. One reason for that is that energy costs for businesses in the state are a full 25 percent lower than the national average. But the state hasn’t rested on those impressive, and profitable, numbers. Oklahoma has some of the lowest tax rates and some of the best tax incentives in the nation. Its Quality Jobs Program targets manufacturers and certain service industries that have a new payroll investment of $2.5 million or more to receive a quarterly cash payment of up to 5 percent of new taxable payroll for up to 10 years. The 21st Century Quality Jobs Program offers incentives to businesses with a highly skilled, knowledge-based workforce. For qualifying companies, this incentive would pay businesses cash back, up to 10 percent of new taxable payroll, for up to 10 years. With the Aerospace Engineer Workforce Tax Credit, aerospace companies hiring engineers in a variety of fields will receive tax credit each year for the first five years of employment equal to 5 percent of the compensation paid to an engineer, and 10 percent if the engineer graduated from an Oklahoma college or university (up to $12,500 per employee per year).

WHY OKLAHOMA?

DEBY SNODGRASS

Secretary of Commerce and Tourism

Traditional energy is often top-of-mind when thinking about Oklahoma, and while that may have been one of the leading industries to start, the state has much more to offer. Industries like aerospace and defense, agriculture and bioscience, information and finance, manufacturing, and transportation and distribution have emerged to lead the state to a diverse economy. Oklahoma continues to rack up the wins, and it’s no surprise why. The state consistently boasts one of the lowest costs of doing business in the country. Major metropolitan areas like Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Lawton receive accolade after accolade for everything from best place to start a business to quality of life opportunities.

OREGON

STATE PROFILE: Population: 4.02 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 6.6% :: 2015 Export Total: $20.08 billion :: Right To Work State: No

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 2.03 million :: High School Diploma or Higher: 89.5% :: Bachelors or Higher: 30.1% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 11.6%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. Port of Portland :: 2. Portland International Airport :: 3. BNSF/UP

Young, talented professionals are choosing Oregon as their home at an increasing rate; the state was the top destination for Americans moving from one state to another last year, attracted to burgeoning industries in everything from fashion to green building and a high quality of life. The state is particularly strong in semiconductor and other silicon-based manufacturing, with a highly skilled, high-tech workforce of more than 70,000 Oregonians. Oregon backs a half dozen signature research centers and strategic industries spurring the development of new technology startups in such areas as electric vehicles, nanoscience and micro-technologies, sustainable built environments and biotechnology. These investments are creating new technologies, spawning new companies that create new jobs for Oregonians, and also serve as R&D resources for companies. Its business tax rate has been ranked in the top five lowest effective tax rates for the past five years by Ernst & Young and was the lowest for the past two. Due to the state’s ability to harness hydropower, Oregon’s electricity costs on average fewer than $0.06 per kilowatt hour, about half of California rates. And with no sales tax, corporate income tax is based solely on company sales within the state of Oregon.

WHY OREGON?

CHRIS HARDER

Director, Business Oregon

Workers want to come to Oregon. Fortune has run three articles in the past three months on the exodus of companies from the Silicon Valley and other tech hubs to Oregon. Oregon’s competitive costs, workforce, desirable livability and access to foreign markets are all tremendous assets. These assets have helped to grow headquarters of world-famous companies such as Nike and Columbia Sportswear in Oregon, as well as significant presences of leading companies such as Intel, Precision Castparts, Adidas, Boeing and Daimler. And from UAVs in the east to specialized wood products in the south, there are diverse regions each with unique assets to grow businesses in every corner of the state.

PENNSYLVANIA

STATE PROFILE: Population: 12.8 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 9.9% :: 2015 Export Total: $39.4 billion :: Right To Work State: No

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 6.5 million :: High School Diploma or Higher: 89% :: Bachelors or Higher: 28.1% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 10.2%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. Port of Philadelphia :: 2. Philadelphia International Airport :: 3. I-90

Home to 53 of the top 1,000 largest public and private companies in the U.S. by sales, Pennsylvania boasts the sixth biggest economy in the U.S. and such top caliber schools as Penn, Swathmore and Haverford that create an exceptional talent pool for business.

For more than 35 years, the state’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) have provided consulting and training designed to teach prospective and new entrepreneurs the basics of starting and successfully operating a business. The SBDC helps hundreds of new businesses start every year. Studies show that 80 percent of businesses started with assistance from the SBDC are still in business eight years after their start. The Job Creation Tax Credit provides a non-refundable corporate income tax credit to businesses that create at least 25 new jobs or expand existing employment by 20 percent. The credit is equal to $1,000 for each newly created job. A Research and Development Tax Credit offers a non-refundable tax credit equal to 10 percent of a company’s R&D expenses over a base period. The credits are assignable, and may be carried forward for up to 15 years. 

WHY PENNSYLVANIA?

STEVE DiDONATO

Founder, Wine Saver Pro

I cannot begin to explain my satisfaction for [the Small Business Development Centers]. My recent trip to Australia and New Zealand to promote our new wine preservation system was a resounding success and the opportunity to access international trade would never have arisen without the assistance of the Small Business Development Center. We are currently in negotiation with numerous distributors throughout Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands and expect very promising results.

RHODE ISLAND

STATE PROFILE: Population: 1.05 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 7% :: 2015 Export Total: $2.12 billion :: Right To Work State: No

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 552,800 million :: High School Diploma or Higher: 85.4% :: Bachelors or Higher: 31.4% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 11.7%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. Port of Providence :: 2. I-95 :: 3. T.F. Green Airport

The nation’s smallest state proves it’s not size that matters but getting the most out of what it has—and with no major tax rate hikes over the past 20 years. Rhode Island offers an ideal location in the Northeast with all the benefits of major commercial centers; it’s closer to Boston and New York City than half the states of Massachusetts and New York with, many times, half the operating costs. Providence is quickly becoming a hub for talent with more than 130,000 tech-engineering professionals within a 45-minute drive of the city. State personal, corporate and sales tax rates have all gone down and a sales tax on energy for businesses has been eliminated altogether. The combination of these incentives and its $25 million I-195 Redevelopment Fund is allowing Rhode Island to spark development in downtown Providence at the nexus of Brown University, the University of Rhode Island (URI), the Rhode Island School of Design and Johnson & Wales University. That explains why the state recently jumped nine spots in Bloomberg Business’ ranking of the most innovative states—placing it ahead of Texas and New York—and why Wexford Science & Technology has plans in Providence for a 1 million-square-foot life sciences and innovation center complex.

WHY RHODE ISLAND?

JOE RANDO

CEO, Trade Area Systems

We’ve concluded that we will struggle to attract top talent if we stay in a suburban office location. Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley and Boston were all urban and very popular with top tech talent but Providence made more sense for us, because of our current nearby location in Attleboro and its reputation as America’s “coolest city,” according to GQ [magazine]. We reached out to the Commerce Corporation, which engaged us immediately and told us about the new Qualified Jobs Tax Credit program. Governor [Gina] Raimondo’s new economic development tools made relocation to Providence economically feasible for Trade Area Systems. We are very excited about this opportunity.

SOUTH CAROLINA

STATE PROFILE: Population: 4.89 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 5% :: 2015 Export Total: $30.8 billion :: Right To Work State: Yes

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 2.3 million :: High School Diploma or Higher: 85% :: Bachelors or Higher: 25.3% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 8.4%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. Port of Charleston :: 2. Charleston International Airport :: 3. CSX/NS

South Carolina is proof positive that you can make a whole lot out of nothing, with an emphasis on the No. That’s No state property tax, No inventory tax, No wholesale tax, No unitary tax on worldwide profits and No sales tax on manufacturing equipment, industrial power or materials for finished products. That and one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the nation (5 percent), highly competitive wages for workers and low unionization, it’s no wonder the state is consistently ranked among the most business-friendly states in the country. In fact, this right-to-work state’s overall unionization rate of 3.2 percent ranks third-lowest in the United States, and its unionization rate for the private sector is 1.9 percent, giving it the lowest percentage of total employed workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement of any state in the nation. In addition to numerous corporate tax credits and property/discretionary income/licensing tax incentives, South Carolina also keeps companies connected to each other through BuySC, a material and service locator program for South Carolina vendors and buyers with an eye toward controlling costs and boosting the state’s over competitive environment.

WHY SOUTH CAROLINA?

BOBBY HITT

Secretary of Commerce

Compared to our neighbors in the Southeast, we are a small state—with regard to both geography and population. However, because of our remarkable team, we’ve been able to announce more than 500 economic development projects in the last five years, bringing approximately 72,000 new jobs to South Carolina. This success can be attributed to more than just South Carolina’s reputation as a leader in the manufacturing renaissance. The Palmetto State has also built a strong transportation, distribution and logistics industry and has become a hub for headquarters facilities, as well as research and development operations. As a state, we encourage companies from all corners of the globe to come and discover what many already know: South Carolina is “Just Right” for business.

SOUTH DAKOTA

STATE PROFILE: Population: 853,000 :: Corporate Tax Rate: 0 :: 2015 Export Total: $5.3 billion :: Right To Work State: Yes

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 465,000 :: High School Diploma or Higher: 89.9% :: Bachelors or Higher: 25.1% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 7.3%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. Interstate-90 :: 2. Missouri River :: 3. BNSF

South Dakota’s MicroLOAN programs are designed to help small businesses grow and help rural communities remain viable. These financing programs offer businesses access to working capital; local banks fund 50 percent of the project costs. The state’s main funding source for training is the Workforce Development Program. Through matching grants, this program supports both new and current employee training, primarily for technical skills. To ensure companies have the workforce they need, the state offers the New South Dakotans Initiative, which provides half the cost of employee recruitment for certain high-need, high-impact industries in South Dakota. Employee recruitment is handled through a contract with Manpower, Inc. and the cost to the business is dependent on the base salaries of the hired employees. According to the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, financing accounts for 88 percent of South Dakota’s incentive programs, while 6 percent offer tax-related benefits. According to South Dakota’s fiscal year 2016 Governor’s Recommended Budget, the state spent $101 million on incentives in 2014. At an average spending rate of $3,134 per business, South Dakota ranks third in the nation in this category, spending significantly higher than the national average of $875 per business spent in other states for that fiscal year.

WHY SOUTH DAKOTA?

PAT COSTELLO

Commissioner, Governor’s Office of Economic Development

South Dakota has a tremendous business environment and has received accolades from a number of different national organizations for its business friendliness. We are always close to the bottom three or four in the nation as far costs of doing business, and we have no corporate income tax and no inventory tax. We have a very responsible state government that balances its books honestly. Our pensions are 100 percent funded. We have a strong labor force. Unemployment is relatively low but we have a large population of underemployed workers. Our experience has been that when companies come into the state they have thousands of strong applicants to fill their positions.

TENNESSEE

STATE PROFILE: Population: 6.6 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 6.5% :: 2015 Export Total: $32.4 billion :: Right To Work State: Yes

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 3.1 million :: High School Diploma or Higher: 83.1% :: Bachelors or Higher: 23% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 7.9%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. Int’l Port of Memphis :: 2. Memphis Int’l Airport :: 3. Five Class I Railroads (BNSF, CN, CSX, NS, UP)

Tennessee’s FastTrack incentives program includes grants for infrastructure development, job training and a discretionary fund for a variety of other expenses. Under the FastTrack infrastructure program, grants are made to local communities for public infrastructure improvements that benefit one or more companies committed to creating new jobs and/or making new capital investments. Reimbursable FastTrack grants assist companies with training expenses and the development of customized training plans. Benefits are available for classroom instruction as well as job-based training. The FastTrack Economic Development Fund provides funds for companies expanding or locating in Tennessee with reimbursable grants to local industrial development boards. These can be used for relocation expenses, temporary office space, and capital improvements and retrofitting. Tax incentives include the Job Tax Credit, worth up to $4,500 per job to offset up to 50 percent of franchise and excise taxes in any given year and with a carry forward for up to 15 years. To qualify, companies must create at least 25 net new jobs within a 36-month period and invest at least $500,000 in a qualified business enterprise. The Industrial Machinery Tax Credit provides a credit of 1 percent to 10 percent for the purchase of qualified industrial machinery. The credit can be applied to manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, headquarters and call centers.

WHY TENNESSEE?

RANDY BOYD

Economic and Community Development Commissioner

We’re a low-tax, low-debt, strategically located state that is the first in the nation to offer high school graduates last-dollar scholarships to attend community or technical college free of tuition and fees. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies that help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs. The department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. Last year alone, foreign direct investments totaled $2.25 billion in capital and created more than 7,800 new jobs. Japan is Tennessee’s largest foreign investor nation, representing over 50 percent of all foreign direct investment in the state. Tennessee ranks No. 1 in the Southeast and No. 3 in the nation for Japanese capital investment.

TEXAS

STATE PROFILE: Population: 27.5 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 0 :: 2015 Export Total: $251 billion :: Right To Work State: Yes

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 13.3 million :: High School Diploma or Higher: 81.6% :: Bachelors or Higher: 25.5% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 8.5%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. Port of Houston :: 2. Dallas/Fort Worth Int’l Airport :: 3. Three Class I Railroads (BNSF, KCS, UP)

The Texas legislature established the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) to provide financial resources that help strengthen the state’s economy. The governor, lieutenant governor and the speaker of the House must unanimously agree to support the use of TEF for each specific project. Each project considered for TEF support must demonstrate its worthiness, maximize the benefit to the state and realize a significant rate of return of the public dollars being used for economic development in Texas. Capital investment, job creation, wages generated and the applicant’s financial strength and business history are all significant factors in approving the use of TEF. The Skills Development Fund assists Texas public community and technical colleges finance customized job training for local businesses. Grants are provided to help companies and labor unions form partnerships with local community colleges and technical schools to provide custom job training.

Businesses designated under the Texas Enterprise Zone Program are eligible for incentives such as state sales and use tax refunds ranging from $2,500 to $7,500 per job created. Tax incentives include an exemption from state and local sales and use taxes of leased or purchased machinery, equipment, replacement parts and accessories that are used in manufacturing or repairing goods for ultimate sale. Texas businesses are also exempt from paying state sales and use tax on labor for constructing new facilities.

WHY TEXAS?

GREG ABBOTT

Governor

Texas continues to be an economic powerhouse thanks to an environment and government that encourages business growth by limiting taxes, regulations and bureaucracy. Companies relocate to Texas because of our prosperous economic environment, skilled workforce and low cost of owning and operating a franchise.

For the 12th straight year, CEOs across America have agreed there is no place better for conducting business than Texas. Our winning formula is simple: low taxes, reasonable regulations and investment in a quality workforce. The best thing a government can do to create jobs and prosperity is get out of the way of employers, and as governor, I will continue to pursue policies that do just that.

UTAH

STATE PROFILE: Population: 3 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 5% :: 2015 Export Total: 13.3 billion :: Right To Work State: Yes

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 1.5 million :: High School Diploma or Higher: 90.4% :: Bachelors or Higher: 28.5% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 9.1%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. Salt Lake Int’l Airport :: 2. Interstates 80, 15, 70 :: 3. Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads

Financial incentives are provided by the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development for business relocation and expansion. Incentives may be offered as either grants or tax credits. The incentive amount and duration are decided by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development board and executive director based on statutory guidelines and evaluation criteria that include the financial strength and historical stability of the company, the number and salary of jobs created, amount of new state tax revenue, long-term capital investment, competition with other locations, and whether the company is in one of Utah’s targeted industries: aerospace and defense, energy and natural resources, financial services, IT and software development, life sciences and outdoor products and recreation. All state incentives are awarded on a post-performance basis so that companies must meet specific milestones, including generation of new state tax revenue, before incentives are disbursed. The Economic Development Tax Increment Financing is a post-performance tax credit for up to 30 percent of new state tax revenues over the life of a project, typically five to 10 years. The Industrial Assistance Fund provides post-performance grants for the creation of high-paying jobs in the state.

Both programs require the creation of at least 50 new well-paying jobs.

WHY UTAH?

VAL HALE

Executive director, Governor’s Office of Economic Development

Utah has taken Forbes’ top spot as Best State for Business and Careers five out of the last six years and has been Pollina Corporate Real Estate’s No. 1 pro-business state four years running. Reasonable regulation and low corporate tax rates are two of the reasons Utah has become one of the most business-friendly states in America. Utah has the third-most diverse economy in the country, and state growth strategies are focused not only on recruiting new companies but also supporting business already here. Combined with a vibrant workforce, innovative infrastructure and unmatched outdoor recreation, Utah is a land of economic opportunity with an unbeatable quality of life.

VERMONT

STATE PROFILE: Population: 626,000 :: Corporate Tax Rate: 8.5 percent (Top Rate) :: 2015 Export Total: 3.2 billion :: Right To Work State: No

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 344,500 :: High School Diploma or Higher: 91% :: Bachelors or Higher: 33.1% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 13.3%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. U.S. Highways 4 and 7 :: 2. Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport :: 3. New England Central Railroad

The primary agency responsible for administering incentive programs is the Vermont Economic Development Authority. VEDA offers a wide range of low-cost lending options for Vermont businesses of all sizes customized to borrowers’ needs. Whether in the form of direct loans, bond issuance or loan guarantees, VEDA’s financing programs help ensure that Vermont businesses and farms have the capital they need to grow and succeed. VEDA is responsible for administering 15 of Vermont’s 28 economic development incentives. Among the 13 other available programs, the Brownfields Revitalization Fund provides applicants with the ability to borrow up to $250,000 at attractive rates and terms for assessment, characterization and cleanup of contaminated sites. The Research and Development Tax Credit allows Vermont companies to claim a tax credit equal to 27 percent of the federal tax credit allowed in the taxable year and to carry the credit forward for up to 10 years. The Vermont Training Program promotes industrial expansion and encourages the creation and retention of jobs by providing training for new and existing businesses. Individually designed programs may include on-the-job, classroom, skill upgrade or other specialized training. Central Vermont Public Service offers incentive electrical rates for new or expanding industries that meet the eligibility criteria.

WHY VERMONT?

PETER SHUMLIN

Governor

Our focus is on growing jobs and opportunity statewide, especially in more rural parts of the state the Great Recession hit that hardest. We’re also investing in Vermont’s downtowns to expand economic development statewide. From Brattleboro to Bennington to Rutland to St. Albans to Newport, we’re working to strengthen downtowns and help local leaders grow jobs and opportunity for Vermont families. The state is home to the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in America and we are seeing continued job growth in many sectors, including manufacturing. We’re a small state that doesn’t have the economic development resources of larger states. But we do have a responsive state government, and that makes a difference.

VIRGINIA

STATE PROFILE: Population: 8.4 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 6% :: 2015 Export Total: $18.14 billion :: Right to Work State: Yes

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 4.2 million :: High School Diploma or Higher: 87.9% :: Bachelors or Higher: 35.8% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 15%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. Port of Virginia :: 2. Washington Dulles Int’l Airport :: 3. Norfolk Southern

Virginia may be for lovers, but businesses also prosper in the mid-Atlantic state. Global manufacturers, in particular, benefit from locating in Virginia, thanks to the state’s International Trade Facility Tax Credit and its Barge and Rail Usage Tax Credit. Although these incentives will expire next year, both tax credits have been instrumental in bringing global shippers to Virginia ports. Perhaps the biggest draw to Virginia, however, is the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund, a governor-backed incentive that helps secure a company location or expansion project in the Commonwealth. The caveat, state officials say, is that new or expanding businesses must positively impact Virginia’s economy. Tax-wise, the Commonwealth offers companies a slew of incentives, including exemptions on sales and use taxes, as well as property taxes. Under Virginia law, manufacturers’ inventory, furniture and intangible property are all tax-exempt.

Another major boon to manufacturers is the Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s Virginia Jobs Investment Program, a state-funded initiative that subsidizes human resources development costs for new and expanding companies. To be eligible, businesses must derive more than half of their revenue from out-of-state sources while creating “basic” employment in the state. Along with manufacturers, companies that move their headquarters to Virginia or set up regional distribution centers fit into this category.

WHY VIRGINIA?

MIKE LEHMKUHLER

Vice president, Business Attraction, Virginia Economic Development Partnership

Virginia has connections to the global economy that many other states lack. For one thing, our central East Coast location provides businesses ideal proximity to major consumer, financial and governmental hubs, as well as access to global markets via Washington Dulles International Airport and the Port of Virginia—the latter of which is the only East Coast entity currently capable of accommodating Post-Panamax container ships as the first or last port of call. And our workforce benefits from the second-highest concentration of technology jobs in America, as well as approximately 15,000 skilled workers leaving the military each year and entering the labor force.

WASHINGTON

STATE PROFILE: Population: 7.2 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 0 :: 2015 Export Total: $86.35 billion :: Right to Work State: No

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 3.55 million :: High School Diploma or Higher: 90.2% :: Bachelors or Higher: 32.3% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 11.1%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. The Northwest Seaport Alliance, joining the ports of Seattle and Tacoma :: 2. Seattle-Tacoma Int’l Airport :: 3. I-5

The birthplace of global giants Microsoft, Amazon and Boeing, Washington is a major economic powerhouse. Contributing to this position is the state’s highly educated workforce—nearly one-third of Washingtonians hold a bachelor’s degree—stellar transportation infrastructure and low energy costs. The latter is particularly advantageous to manufacturers, state officials say, with Washington’s industrial energy rates lagging 35 percent behind the national average. Plus, 73 percent of the state’s energy derives from renewable and sustainable power sources—a big draw for eco-conscious companies. Manufacturers further benefit from the Washington State Department of Commerce’s export assistance program, which encompasses consulting, market research, risk mitigation—the department researches potential trading partners to determine their creditworthiness and resolve currency issues—and business matchmaking. Under the last advantage, state trade experts introduce businesses to prospective buyers and arrange local trade missions, a move that has helped Washington become one of the top export markets in the nation. Fueling exports even more is Impact Washington, a nonprofit organization that provides consulting services to local manufacturers. Key areas of focus include lean training—lean manufacturing experts help companies eliminate superfluous practices—transition succession planning and growth strategies. Impact Washington also helps manufacturers identify their goals, turning their visions into tactical plans.

WHY WASHINGTON?

RICARDO NOGUERA

Community and economic development director, City of Tacoma

Washington is the gateway to Asia. And because we’re located in the Puget Sound region and are the closest state to the Pacific Rim, there’s a lot of interest from Asian companies—particularly those in China, South Korea and Vietnam—in investing in the Pacific Northwest. Our rail and air connections are particularly strong, and the recent partnership between the ports of Seattle and Tacoma—resulting in the Northwest Seaport Alliance—has really opened up investment in the Far East to do more imports and exports through Washington State. And U.S. companies are benefitting from the good access to the Pacific Rim.

WEST VIRGINIA

STATE PROFILE: Population: 1.8 million  :: Corporate Tax Rate: 6.5% :: 2015 Export Total: $5.72 billion :: Right to Work State: Yes

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 785,500 :: High School Diploma or Higher: 84.4% :: Bachelors or Higher: 18.7% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 6.7%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. I-64 :: 2. I-77 :: 3. I-81

West Virginia may be known more for its scenery than economic prowess, but the Mountain State shouldn’t be discounted, state officials say. Since 2005, West Virginia has seen more than $22 billion in new business investments—with global manufacturers Toyota, Kureha Corp. and Hino Motors all setting up shop there. Attracting business to West Virginia is its loyal—and productive—workforce. Along with boasting the lowest employee turnover rate in the U.S. manufacturing sector—31 percent below the national average—West Virginia houses some of the hardest-working employees in the country, according to national benchmark studies. And West Virginian authorities are committed to keeping it that way, as evidenced by the WorkForce West Virginia initiative, which centralizes the state’s employee recruitment and retention efforts. Employers can post job listings and obtain critical information about the labor market and subsidize job and skills training through the Governor’s Guaranteed Work Force Program for new and expanding businesses. Companies—especially manufacturers—also benefit from the program’s On-the-Job Training offering, which partially reimburses them for hiring a full-time apprentice during a specified training period—a model, state officials say, that’s a win-win for all parties.

WHY WEST VIRGINIA?

KEITH BURDETTE

Secretary of Commerce

Along with our network of major highways, we’re situated within an eight-hour drive from more than half of the U.S. population and a third of the Canadian population. And the eastern part of the state benefits from the presence of the critical I-81 corridor, which is where Proctor & Gamble is locating its second U.S. manufacturing facility. [The company] chose West Virginia over many competing states because of our strategic location; the fact that our cost of doing business is about 14 percent lower than the national average; and our cost of energy, which is between 20 percent and 30 percent lower than the national average.

WISCONSIN

STATE PROFILE: Population: 5.8 million :: Corporate Tax Rate: 7.9% :: 2015 Export Total: $22.4 billion :: Right to Work State: Yes

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 3.1 million :: High School Diploma or Higher: 90.8% :: Bachelors or Higher: 27.4% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 8.4%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1.General Mitchell International Airport :: 2. I-41 :: 3. I-94

Cheese is Wisconsin’s claim to fame, but the state produces more than just dairy products. Home to iconic companies Harley Davidson and Rockwell Automation, Wisconsin has a long history of manufacturing excellence—and state legislators are working to keep this tradition alive through a number of targeted incentives. Chief among them is Wisconsin’s Manufacturing and Agriculture Credit, a tax policy launched in 2013 that expunges income tax from manufacturing-related activities. Once fully phased in, state manufacturers will enjoy a staggeringly low 0.4 percent corporate tax rate. New and expanding companies further benefit from the state’s Business Development Tax Credits, which help offset the costs of corporate relocation, capital investment, job creation and employee training through refundable credits. Manufacturers looking to ramp up their overseas business can also take advantage of ExporTech, an intensive program that gives manufacturers a crash course in exporting though individualized coaching and consulting sessions. Specifically, ExporTech instructors work with companies to identify target markets and create tangible action plans—tasks that go a long way in preparing manufacturers for the often-complicated export process. And the numbers speak for themselves: One year after graduating, ExporTech alumnae witness between a $600,000 and $900,000 spike in international sales.

WHY WISCONSIN?

WADE GOODSELL

Director, Business and Investment Attraction, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

Wisconsin is an ideal location for businesses looking to start, relocate or expand. Not only does our state benefit from a solid infrastructure and virtually no income tax on manufacturing and agriculture activities, we also offer a highly skilled workforce. Fostering such success is Wisconsin’s $150 million investment in workforce development programs, as well as our top-rated technical colleges and universities. We also have road access to more than 40 percent of U.S. and Canadian manufacturers, rails that move more than $122 billion in freight annually, and 29 commercial ports that ship 40 million tons of freight each year—a major boon to global shippers.

WYOMING

STATE PROFILE: Population: 586,107 :: Corporate Tax Rate: 0 :: 2015 Export Total: 1.17 billion :: Right to Work State: Yes

WORKFORCE: Labor Force: 306,012 :: High School Diploma or Higher: 91.8% :: Bachelors or Higher: 12.3% :: Graduate Degree or Higher: 4.4%

INFRASTRUCTURE HIGHLIGHTS: 1. I-80 :: 2. I-25 :: 3. I-90

Manpower may not be its biggest strength—Wyoming currently holds the title of least populated state—but what the Cowboy State lacks in population, it compensates for in business incentives. Not only does Wyoming offer companies a plethora of available properties, it has one of the lowest tax burdens in the U.S. The state’s sales tax stands at a low 4 percent, a figure that is especially impressive considering Wyoming’s lack of state income, gross receipts and corporate income taxes. Electricity used in manufacturing is also tax-exempt. Tax advantages aside, Wyoming also works with manufacturers to market their products to international and domestic audiences. Small- and medium-size manufacturers, in particular, benefit from the Wyoming First Program, a government-backed initiative that promotes locally manufactured goods through branding and marketing campaigns. The state also subsidizes the cost of attending trade shows for qualifying companies. Incentivizing businesses even further is Wyoming’s Workforce Development Fund, which helps companies build and maintain a strong pipeline of talent. In addition to offering established businesses up to $2,000 per trainee per year to upgrade their employees’ skills, the state provides new and expanding companies with up to $4,000 per trainee per year to prepare employees for their new roles.

WHY WYOMING?

SHAWN REESE

CEO, Wyoming Business Council

Wyoming consistently ranks among the top states in which to do business—and for good reason: We are statutorily required to run a balanced budget; businesses have unparalleled access to the governor and legislators; and there are no corporate, income, value-added or inventory taxes. Our prime transportation infrastructure includes three Interstate highways and two Class I intercontinental railroads—and multiple airports provide reliable access to and from all Wyoming communities. Plus, there’s a concerted effort to further diversify Wyoming’s economy. Businesses have taken notice, with recent big wins from industrial giants such as Microsoft, Magpul Industries, Underwriters Laboratories and Tungsten Heavy Powder and Parts.

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