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CRN 2018 Best States Methodology

Here we break down the data sources used in this year's analysis of the best states to start and grow a solution provider business.

The goal of CRN's annual Best States analysis is to provide readers with a comprehensive view of the economic, workforce and channel climate in each state. The information can be used by entrepreneurs who are considering starting a solution provider business or by solution provider owners and executives who might be looking for expansion opportunities.

This year's Best States analysis incorporated many of the same criteria used in previous years–updated with the most recent data available. New criteria was also considered in this year's analysis, ranging from cellphone coverage in each state to rankings of each state's ability to capitalize on our increasingly data-driven economy.

The criteria covered several broad categories including labor and operating costs, the education and experience level of a state's workforce, taxes and regulatory burden, state infrastructure, and personal cost of living/quality of life. Data was also analyzed to rank states for their levels of entrepreneurship and innovation, and business climate/competitive environment.

Data used in the Best States analysis came from a wide range of sources. The annual CompTIA Cyberstates report was the data source for several criteria including tech industry employment and wages, the number of tech business establishments in each state, and the tech sector as a percentage of total gross state product.

The 2017 State New Economy Index from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation provided data about venture capital, patents and fast-growing companies. Another key data source was the ITIF's Data Innovation Report, which analyzed a series of indicators that rank states on the degree to which they have achieved key enablers of success in the data-driven economy.

Most of the state taxation data, including corporate, sales and personal income tax rates, came from The Tax Foundation's 2018 State Business Tax Climate Index and from the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council June 2017 report.

Government agencies are a critical Best States data source including the Bureau of Labor Statistics (unemployment rates and union affiliation), the Bureau of Economic Analysis (state GDP), the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Data from a wide range of educational and research institutions was used in the analysis, including the American Community Survey and the Economic Policy Institute, for education level attainment. Data on entrepreneurship and startup growth rates came from the Kaufmann Foundation's Kauffman Index reports.

The number of solution providers per state–and the solution provider competitive saturation rank–came from a database maintained by The Channel Company, the parent company of CRN.

Data about the number of small and midsize businesses in each state came from a Dun & Bradstreet/American Express report, while information about each state's public transportation systems came from Infrastructurereportcard.org. Data on median rental costs came from Apartmentslist.com and gas price data came from AAA. And data about the states most prone to natural disasters came from www.worldatlas.com.

The Best States analysis also incorporated state rankings on a range of criteria developed by other business media including the CNBC America's Top States for Business 2018, Forbe's Best States for Businesses 2017, U.S. News' Best States, the WalletHub 2018 Best States to Start a Business, and the WalletHub 2018 Most and Least Educated States in America.

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