Washington ranked No. 1 state for business

This year’s CNBC Top States for Business ranking looks at workforce, infrastructure, quality of living, more


The Evergreen State may also be the state of greener pastures when it comes to doing business.

That’s according to the 2017 America’s Top States for Business ranking, which names Washington #1. The CNBC ranking takes into account a number of variables, including each state’s workforce, transportation infrastructure, education, quality of life, technology and overall economic health.

The honor was given to Washington today during a live-television reveal shot from the scenic Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park, where the news organization interviewed Gov. Jay Inslee.

Gov. Jay Inslee talks to CNBC’s Scott Cohn on Tuesday afternoon from Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park regarding Washington state’s #1 ranking in America’s Top States for Business 2017, a list put together by the news organization. (Official Governor’s Office Photo)

“Why did we top the list? Because we’re the most talented state, the most connected state and the most innovative state in the union,” Inslee said. “My top priority as governor is to continue to nurture our thriving economic climate that spurs job growth and keeps us at the top echelon for years to come. We know that a cleaner planet, happy and healthy workers and a growing economy can go hand-in-hand.”

Washington led all states in GDP growth and exports per capita last year. In 2016, $90 billion in merchandise shipped through our ports. In fact, our seaports are a full day closer to Asia than those in Los Angeles-Long Beach.

Washington is making improvements at every rung of the education ladder to prepare kids for the jobs of tomorrow. We embrace diversity, welcoming hard-working people who come to the state seeking a better life for their families. We recently passed legislation offering the biggest and greenest transportation investments in state history. Our universities conduct leading-edge research. And companies such as Microsoft, Amazon and Boeing have broken through the barriers of commerce to lead the world in innovation and success.

According to CNBC, the ranking is based on 10 qualities that states “deem most important in attracting business” and draws mostly from publicly available data to analyze how each state performed in those areas. There were 2,500 points possible, and Washington received 1,621. Read more about the methodology here.

Washington ranked highly in several of the variables analyzed:

  • #3 in technology and innovation
  • #3 in economy
  • #5 in workforce
  • #5 in quality of life
  • #8 in access to capital

Washington still has work to do in other areas. It ranked 32nd in infrastructure and 37th in cost of living. Inslee said that the state is working to address both.

The recently passed transportation package should go a long way to improve infrastructure, he said. The high cost of living, though an indicator that Washington is an attractive place to live, has been especially apparent in housing costs. A solution will require increasing the housing stock, more support for housing programs, and smart transportation planning, Inslee said.

Other states that led America’s Top States for Business list were Georgia at #2, Minnesota at #3, Texas at #4 and North Carolina at #5.

It’s not the only recognition Washington has received this year. In February, U.S. News and World Report ranked Washington among the top five states in the nation.

Gov. Jay Inslee stands with park rangers Tuesday in the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park following CNBC’s announcement that Washington was listed as #1 in America’s Top States for Business 2017. CNBC interviewed Inslee at the park right after the announcement. (Official Governor’s Office Photo)



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