This story was updated Nov. 5, 2018, at 10:59 p.m. with more information.
For the sixth consecutive year, Georgia has been ranked by site selectors and business leaders as the state with the best business climate in America, according to Site Selection magazine.
As home to the world's busiest airport, two major East coast ports and a diversified economy with a friendly business atmosphere, Georgia was rated No. 1 by executives surveyed by the magazine and also rated tops among the 50 states for per capita new plant investments announced so far this year.
"The entire state of Georgia could be considered a zone of opportunity for companies seeking the nation's best business climate — year after year," said Mark Arend, editor of Site Selection.
Best business climate states
2. North Carolina
Source: Site Selection magazine
Neighboring Tennessee and Alabama also remained among the top 10 states for their business climate in 2018, Site Selection reported in its current issue. Tennessee tied South Carolina as the fifth best state for its business climate, while Alabama ranked No. 8.
The South dominated most of the top states in the Site Selection ranking. North Carolina ranked No. 2, Texas was No. 3, Ohio was No. 4, and Virginia was No. 7.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said Monday the top ranking "speaks to the immense strength of our business-friendly environment and the value of the strategic investments we've made across our state." Deal, who is leaving office in January, said he has worked over the past eight years to build on Georgia's pro-business climate.
"We have not been content to rest on our laurels, as we've cut taxes and made even deeper investments in our workforce since first earning this distinction," Deal said.
When state tax cuts passed earlier this year are fully implemented, Georgia's corporate and individual income tax rates will be reduced from 6 percent to 5.5 percent. State tax reforms will also double the standard deduction for individuals and families from $3,000 to $6,000.
Despite such tax cuts, Georgia has maintained a AAA bond rating for 21 consecutive years and the state's Rainy Day Fund, which was once almost empty, has now topped $2.5 billion, the highest of any such fund in the Southeast.
Arend said the six-year top business climate winning streak for the Peach State "is highly unusual," but he said "capital investors tell us the state delivers the fiscal soundness, logistics infrastructure, competitive business costs and workers they require today and in the future."
Just last month, Georgia announced $215 million of projects in Cobb, Emanuel, Fulton, Hall and Troup counties that are projected to collectively add more than 2,500 jobs.
Earlier this year in Northwest Georgia this year, the flooring manufacturer Mannington Mills said it will invest another $42 million and add more than 200 jobs in Calhoun by 2021 while Dixie Specialty Fibers Inc. announced plans to build a $19 million factory in Chattooga County that will employ 100 people.
In Dalton's new, 70-acre industrial park, Healthier Choice Flooring is planning a $12 million plant that will employ 25 more workers and Reagent Chemical and White Flyer Targets plan to build a 150,000-square-foot plant. The jobs numbers and financial investment by that investment have not yet been announced.
Although Georgia's jobless rate remained above the U.S. average for years following the Great Recession that rocked the economy a decade ago, Georgia's unemployment rate now matches the U.S. average at 3.7 percent — the lowest point since 2001.
In the past eight years, Georgia has seen the creation of roughly 750,000 new, private sector jobs. In the same period, Georgia exports have grown by 28.8 percent.
The job gains have helped cut the share of Georgia's population living below the poverty line by 2.1 percentage points, Deal said.