In early September Internet giant Amazon.com announced that it was seeking a location for a second headquarters, setting off a frenzy where just about every state and city in the U.S. is scrambling to make the argument that it is the best place for Amazon to set up shop.
Which raises the question all entrepreneurs ask (or should ask): Where is the best place for me to locate my business?
Each year for the past five years CRN researchers and editors have undertaken a detailed analysis of the business climate in all 50 states to offer readers guidance about which states offer more business opportunities, more innovation and growth potential, better pools of talented workers, lower costs, and less burdensome taxes and regulations.
Here we provide the results of our 2017 research, including a slide show with a state-by-state analysis ranked from the least favorable state to the state that has the most to offer a startup solution provider.
The criteria includes state-by-state data that's important for entrepreneurs starting a solution provider business, everything from the education and experience levels of the available workforce, to corporate income and sales tax rates, to state GDP growth rates and economic climates. (A more detailed description of the Best States methodology and data sources is provided in a separate story.)
This year the analysis included more data on public infrastructure, including road conditions, public transport, internet performance and even disaster preparedness – an important factor as evidenced by the recent damage in Texas and Florida caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Also important is the solution provider competitive saturation, a ranking based on the ratio of potential business customers in a state per solution provider. While some states might be attractive from the perspective of having low taxes or a deep pool of IT talent, those attributes might be offset by potential competition from a large number of established solution providers.
So which states are the best for starting a solution provider business?
For the second year in a row Florida has come out on top thanks to its No. 1 ranking for taxes and regulations: The state has no personal income tax and the 5.5 percent corporate income tax is among the 10 lowest in the country.
The Sunshine State ranked No. 2 in business climate/competitive environment. Florida is No. 2 in the number of small and midsize businesses (1.94 million) that make for prospective customers for a solution provider. And its 3 percent real GDP growth in 2016 ranked No. 3 (tied with several other states).