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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.

Methodology And Data Sources

This year’s Best States analysis incorporated many of the same criteria and data sources used in previous years – updated with the most recent data available. New criteria considered in this year’s analysis included the concentration of bachelor’s and advanced degrees in science, engineering and STEM disciplines, R&D intensity, technology company density, terrestrial broadband access, and the number of solution providers as a percent of all businesses (solution provider saturation) in a state, among others.

As in previous years the criteria and data were organized in categories with rankings given to each state in each category, as well as an overall ranking. The categories included labor and operating costs, workforce education and experience, 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.

During the analysis, data was weighted according to the results of a CRN Research survey of solution providers to determine the importance of each criteria.

A state’s rise or fall in the Best State’s rankings from one year to the next may be due to actual changes in a state’s situation (a significant tax rate hike or cut, for example, or significant expansion of a state’s tech sector). State rankings can also change with the inclusion of new data that can provide a clearer analytical picture of a state, with changes in the analytical weighting of the data, or any combination of these.

This year, given the sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting recession from shuttered economies, we have sought to provide insights into the business impact of those events and what they might mean for the channel.

State-by-state criteria included GDP declines in the first quarter when the crisis hit, employment declines between February and July, economic impact rankings, the impact on small businesses, available resources and support for individuals and businesses to cope with the crisis, and economic recovery efforts.

Data used in the Best States analysis came from a wide range of sources. The annual CompTIA Cyberstates report was the data source for a number of 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.

Most of the state taxation data, including corporate, sales and personal income tax rates, came from The Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index.

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 Small Business Administration and the SBA Office of Advocacy, the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Data from a range of private research, educational institutions, government agency and media sources are used in the analysis including multiple reports from WalletHub, the Bloomberg 2020 U.S. State Innovation Index, CNBC America’s Top States for Business, U.S. New Best States Rankings, and the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.

Data for the personal cost of living/quality of life section came from the Tax Foundation, Experian,, Forbes Best States for Business 2020, the American Automobile Association, CompTIA and other sources. State infrastructure data was obtained from,, U.S. News Best States, the U.S. Department of Transportation,, and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation’s National Health Security Preparedness Index.

The COVID-19 Impact section relied on data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire, and WalletHub reports (“State Economies Exposed to Coronavirus” and “States with the Most Aggressive Measures in Limiting Virus Exposure”).

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. The ranking was calculated based on the number of businesses in each state per solution provider – an indication of the competition a solution provider would face in recruiting customers.



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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