Mississippi’s government and business leaders won’t find any glad tidings for the New Year in Forbes magazine’s annual list of “Best States for Business.”
The business magazine’s December issue ranks Mississippi 46th overall and puts the state dead last in the “Growth Prospects” category.
By contrast, Forbes proclaimed Utah the top state for business and described it as magnet for luring U.S. companies and generating international trade. Virginia, lauded for its pro-business regulatory climate and attractive financial incentives for economic development, received a second-place ranking, followed by North Dakota in third.
The ranking for worst overall went to Maine, which Forbes labels a low economy productivity state with few big businesses headquartered there. “A bigger issue is that productivity has barely improved the past five years,” Forbes writes. “The 0.2 percent growth in the GSP (Gross State Product) per employee is the worst in the U.S.”
Rhode Island, Hawaii and Michigan followed in the bottom 10 rankings, though Forbes speculated that Michigan’s recent passage of a so-called “right-to-work” law could help improve on the state’s 47th place ranking in future lists.
Mississippi was the lone right-to-work state to land in the bottom 10, the Forbes editors noted.
Here is Forbes’ assessment of the Magnolia State:
“Businesses are attracted to Mississippi’s low labor costs, which are 10 percent below the national average. But the state ranks in the bottom three on both college and high school attainment. Another issue: Mississippi has the lowest median household income at $38,151. The economic outlook isn’t great either with the sixth worst job forecast through 2016, according to Moody’s Analytics, and the second lowest investment of venture capital of any state. Mississippi is the only right-to-work state in the bottom 10.”
In assessing Mississippi’s workforce, Forbes gave the state a 48th place ranking. The ranking bears out an assessment of the state’s workforce development needs by Brent Christensen, who early in his less-than-one-year tenure as head of the Mississippi Development Authority proclaimed improvements in development of the labor force as the key to moving the state’s economy forward.
What the state has done so far, “Simply is not good enough,” he told the Madison County Business League at a luncheon last summer. “Right now we don’t have that workforce development system that delivers consistency across the board.”
Mississippi fared much better in the “business costs” category, landing in 18th place among the states. Forbes gave the state a 27th place ranking for “regulatory environment” and 36th place in “economic climate.”
Mississippi’s prospects for improvement in Forbes 2013 listings may be diminished by what could be a $26 million loss in economic incentives awarded failed solar panel start-up Twin Creeks. The state loaned Twin Creeks $26 million to build an 80,000 square-foot building in Senatobia and purchase equipment.The MDA hopes to recruit a new tenant for the building.
In putting Rhode Island last for Best States for Business, Forbes noted the beating the state took with the bankruptcy of video game company 38 Studios and the company’s default on a $75 million economic development incentive loan from the state. The failure of the company, whose principals included former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, cost 300 Rhode Island workers their jobs.