A new national survey indicates that Idaho is increasingly becoming an attractive place to operate a business. And while the new ranking is a positive development among many state leaders, some still believe there is room for improvement.
“This is a ranking that we watch very closely,” said Jeff Sayer, director of the Idaho Department of Commerce. He spoke with Idaho Reporter.com about CNBC’s “Top States For Business: 2013” survey, which ranks Idaho at No. 10 in the nation.
Sayer explained that there are many different business surveys about the respective states published each year.
However, he said that “CNBC’s survey uses one of the most comprehensive algorithms, so they include a lot of serious and important criteria. Two years ago we were ranked in the 30s, last year we rose to No. 13 and we were designated as the ‘most improved state.’ To be at No. 10 this year is something that is very pleasing to us.”
In the survey, CNBC scores each of the 50 states on 51 different measures of competitiveness developed with input from business groups including the National Association of Manufacturers and the Council on Competitiveness. States then receive points based on their rankings in each metric. From there, CNBC separates those metrics into 10 broad categories, weighting the categories based on how frequently they are cited in state economic development marketing materials. The study then ranks each individual state based on the criteria the state uses to sell itself.
Idaho scores its highest ranking, a 3, in the “cost of living” category. The state’s lowest score, a 39, is in the “access to capitol” category.
“I think this demonstrates that Idaho is on the radar screen nationally for business,” Sayer commented. “When businesses look to Idaho they see, for one thing, a fiscally solvent government, which means that we’re probably not going to be raising taxes anytime soon. And as our governor likes to say, Idaho likes to ‘move at the speed of business,’ which means we’re always trying to streamline government agencies and minimize the processes required to do business here.”
While the new ranking is music to Sayer’s ears, one Democrat leaders within the state still sees a need for improvement in both the business and job markets.
“Idaho not only needs to be business friendly and attracting businesses, but we need to attract good-paying jobs” said Larry Kenck, chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party.
A resident of Post Falls, Kenck told IdahoReporter.com that “we need to be attracting jobs that pay a livable wage. One of the basics I hear over and over in talking with business people and potential business owners as they consider relocating here is that they are concerned about education in our state, both educational opportunities and the presence of an educated workforce. Idaho is ranked 49 and that is not the kind of condition that will attract good-paying jobs to our state.”
“This ranking is but only one indicator,” said Jon Hanian, spokesperson for Otter. “Nonetheless, it is further evidence that the very difficult but prudent decisions the governor made during the height of the recession put Idaho on course to be at the front end of the recovery.”
Hanian added that while Otter is pleased with the new ranking, he also believes that there is room for improvement. “The governor is focused on bringing career opportunities to our state. He firmly believes we need to keep the businesses we have in Idaho, while at the same time luring others who may be considering relocating from less business-friendly states.”
The full report from CNBC can be viewed HERE.