Heels Top Hoos, Again

Rankings, from college basketball to “the best beaches” to which state is the “best for business,” are always a bit arbitrary and subjective. But that’s what makes them so much fun to debate.

This week, CNBC announced its “Top States for Business,” a ranking which politicos are often touting.  That is, if their state finishes well.  At one time, Virginia did well, ranking as high as #1 as recently as 2011.  This year, however, Virginia finds itself at #13, continuing a steady decline.

Lots of blame will be applied – much of it on Governor Terry McAuliffe by Republicans, and on “sequestration” by Democrats.  We’ll leave that analysis to others.

What is fascinating, in light of the recent manufactured brouhaha over that state’s law regarding bathroom use, is North Carolina’s ranking – 5th.  Or, for you mathematically challenged, 8 spots ahead of Virginia.   North Carolina actually jumped 4 spots this year, up from 9th. 

Now, CNBC is quick to argue that North Carolina would have finished even higher had it not been for their “controversial law,” which opponents had claimed was costing the state “millions.”  Could be the case, at least temporarily, but long term impact is suspicious at best.  CNBC blamed the law on North Carolina’s low “Quality of Life” ranking, coming in at 30th.

Now this is where the fun begins.  You see, CNBC ranks Minnesota, for example, #2 in its quality of life ranking.  No offense to the Gopher state, but having heard from friends there, it appears that the winters can be just a bit nippy – as in downright miserable.  But CNBC doesn’t include climate in its quality of life methodology.  Instead, it analyzes as follows:

The best places to do business are also the best places to live. We score the states on livability, including several factors, such as the crime rate; inclusiveness, such as antidiscrimination protections; the quality of health care; the level of health insurance coverage and the overall health of the population. We evaluate local attractions, parks and recreation, as well as environmental quality.

“Inclusiveness” as CNBC defines it, of course, which apparently doesn’t “include” anyone who disagrees with their definition.

I don’t know about you, but when I think of quality of life, more often than not, brutal winters would be a factor.  For others, perhaps not.  You may weigh other factors, such as just how pitiful a state’s professional baseball and football teams might be, or the culinary diversity of a state, or how many mosquitoes exist per capita.  You see, quality of life is really, really hard to define for someone else. 

Regardless, the overall ranking indicates that Virginia has some catching up to do if it wants to compete with North Carolina in attracting business – seemingly about the only thing the feds and Supreme Court have left to the states, at least for now. 

It gets worse for Virginia.  Both ESPN and Sports Illustrated have North Carolina ranked ahead of Virginia in their respective polls for next year’s college basketball season. 

Things just keep going from bad to worse for the Old Dominion.