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From Worst To First: Here’s How Each State Ranks For Solution Providers In 2020

Rick Whiting

CRN’s annual best states project ranks all 50 states for operating a solution provider business. We also provide a rank specifically for the business impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for each state.

State Of The 50 States

Solution providers have had to navigate through a difficult year that began with the strongest economy in years and then plunged into recession in February and March as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

The impact of the pandemic and recession, while hitting all 50 states, has not been even felt throughout the country. Some states went into deeper shutdowns than others in an effort to curb the spread of the disease. And some states fared better or worse economically depending on a range of factors such as their ability to respond to the pandemic and their dependence on specific industries – such as travel and tourism – that were hit especially hard by the pandemic and faltering economy.

Each year, CRN undertakes its Best States project to help IT entrepreneurs identify the best and the worst states in the U.S. to start and operate a solution provider business, examining such criteria as the business and entrepreneurial climate of each state, the availability of talented IT workers, and the tax and regulatory burden.

The goal of the Best States analysis is to provide readers with a comprehensive view of the economic, workforce and channel climate in each state. The conclusions 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 – or just to gain a clearer picture of the situation in the states in which they already operate.

This year, solution providers had to quickly pivot their businesses as the IT needs of their clients changed and everyone adjusted to a new work-from-home normal. With the pandemic ongoing and the economy struggling to recover, CRN is itself pivoting with this year’s Best States by going beyond the more long-term criteria used to evaluate each state to include more immediate data such as the pandemic’s impact on each state’s GDP and employment.

The following slides examine each state according to a range of criteria, including data more immediate to the pandemic and recession such as the impact on small businesses, a state’s available resources to deal with the pandemic and economic impact, first-quarter GDP declines and February-to-July job loss.

The overall rankings also include a broad range of more long-range criteria used in previous Best States analyses such as the education and experience level of each state’s workforce, labor and business operating costs, and tax and regulatory burdens. States are also examined for their potential for fostering innovation, spurring growth and generating business opportunities. (A more complete list of criteria and data sources is provided on the final slide.)

The following ranks all 50 states, starting with the worst (No. 50) to the best (No. 1) for operating a solution provider business, considering all criteria. We also provide a rank specifically for the business impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for each state (with those with higher numbers fairing the worst).

And, as in previous years, we’ve crossed referenced the Best States results with this year’s CRN Solution Provider 500 noting how many of the industry’s biggest solution providers call each state home.

A ranking of the 50 states based solely on the business impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is provided in a separate slide series as part of this year’s Best States survey.

50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1

Rick Whiting

Rick Whiting has been with CRN since 2006 and is currently a feature/special projects editor. Whiting manages a number of CRN’s signature annual editorial projects including Channel Chiefs, Partner Program Guide, Big Data 100, Emerging Vendors, Tech Innovators and Products of the Year. He also covers the Big Data beat for CRN. He can be reached at

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