It's Your Move: The Best States To Start Or Expand A Solution Provider Business


GOOD MOVE? THE TOP FIVE STATES

The results of CRN's analysis, in some cases, are surprising. Most people wouldn't think of Utah as the best place to start a technology business. And yet, due to its low taxes, low labor costs and limited regulations, combined with an educated workforce, myriad business opportunities and prospects for innovation and growth, Utah comes out on top as the best place to start and grow a solution provider business.

"It's a very tech-savvy area," said Ryan Westwood, president and CEO of PcCareSupport, a Provo, Utah-based solution provider founded in 2010. (PcCareSupport is a member of the Next-Gen 250.) "It's a very pro-business state."

Almost as surprising is that the No. 2 state in CRN's analysis isn't one of the technology epicenters such as California or Massachusetts, but Virginia, with its low taxes, limited regulations and sizable pool of educated tech workers.

"We're recession-proof here," said Mary Lieb, president and one of three owners of F1 Computer Solutions, based in Warrenton, Va., about 45 miles west of Washington, D.C. (F1 Computer Solutions is a member of the Next-Gen 250.) Lieb pointed to the region's broad range of government, nonprofit and commercial business opportunities, and to the sizable pool of IT-experienced labor. "We're very fortunate where we are," she said.

Colorado (No. 3), Washington (No. 4) and Maryland (No. 5) round out the top five.

BAD MOVE? THE BOTTOM FIVE STATES

At the other end of CRN's ranking is No. 50, West Virginia, with a limited pool of IT educated workers and very limited business opportunities.

"It's certainly not a metro," said Ben Randolph, sales and field service vice president at Citynet, a Bridgeport, W.Va., solution provider, who acknowledged the state is very different from a Silicon Valley or Washington, D.C., tech corridor. "There is a challenge in West Virginia in finding highly qualified IT personnel. But it is getting better," he added, pointing to a growing number of technology-related companies becoming established along U.S. 79 in the northern part of the state.

And while some people may think of Hawaii as paradise, it's more like paradise lost for prospective solution providers. Hawaii, in the CRN analysis, fares poorly because of its high labor costs and business expenses (No. 46), taxes and regulatory environment (No. 43), and business opportunity (No. 49).

Wyoming (No. 48), Arkansas (No. 47) and Mississippi (No. 46) complete the bottom five states in the CRN ranking.

"It's not a place where we're loaded with Fortune 500 companies. It's a rural state," acknowledged Gerard Gibert, CEO of Venture Technologies, a Jackson, Miss.-based solution provider that does the majority of its business in that state, with some operations in surrounding states such as Tennessee and Alabama. (Venture Technologies is a member of the Tech Elite 250.)

Wyoming is ranked No. 50 for business opportunities, which makes for a challenging environment for solution providers such as Casper-based ISC. (ISC is a member of the Tech Elite 250.) "The state of Wyoming has a population smaller than the city of Denver," said ISC CEO and co-founder Win Farnsworth. The state is the least populous in the U.S. (about 575,000) and its biggest cities, Cheyenne and Casper, have around 60,000 or fewer residents with lots of wide-open spaces in between.

"You don't have a lot of commercial or enterprise customers," Farnsworth said. ISC is focused on providing its IT services, including network, security, data storage and unified communications, to public schools, state colleges, and state, county and local governments.

NEXT: Finding The Right Balance