CEOs like look of South

CEOs like look of South

May 3rd, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Amazon Vice President Paul Misener, center, listens as Gov. Bill Haslam, right, speaks at a news conference on Oct. 6, 2011, in Nashville. Haslam announced the state has reached a deal with for the online retailer to begin collecting Tennessee sales tax in 2014 and expand its southeast Tennessee distribution centers by 2,000 jobs. Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty is at left.

Best states for business

1. Texas

2. Florida

3. North Carolina

4. Tennessee

5. Indiana

6. Virginia

7. South Carolina

8. Georgia

Source: Chief Executive magazine

America's corporate leaders like the South with seven of their eight favorite states to do business located below the Mason-Dixon line.

For the eighth consecutive year, Texas ranked No. 1 in a survey of 650 CEOs by Chief Executive magazine. Tennessee maintained its No. 4 ranking among the 50 states for its favorable business climate, while Georgia slipped three places this year to No. 8.

The worst states for business, according to the Chief Executive magazine survey, are California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts and Michigan.

The business leaders preferred states with fewer regulations, unions and taxes and with more economic and population growth.

Indiana was the only state outside the South among the top eight states for its business climate. The Hoosier State climbed into the top tier after Indiana adopted a right-to-work law that ends union shops and requires each individual to join a labor union even if a majority of workers at a workplace vote to unionize the business.

Bill Hagerty, Tennessee's commissioner for economic development, said the No. 4 ranking by the Volunteer State from Chief Executive magazine "is an honor" and reflects the state's focus on pro-business policies.

Tennessee boasts a relatively low government debt burden and its taxes average 22.3 percent less than the U.S. average, the magazine reported.

"Gov. [Bill] Haslam is a successful businessman himself, so he understands exactly what companies are looking for when relocating and expanding," Hagerty said in a statement Wednesday.

An anonymous CEO who moved from New York to Tennessee told the magazine that the differences in climate, cost of living and attitude of government towards business "are outstanding."

Georgia also rated among the top 10 states, but the Peach State's relatively high ranking fell slightly from the previous business climate survey because of the slower growth in the state's economy following the severe housing slump in Atlanta and other markets.