Forbes: Virginia the Best Place to Start a Business, Career

The current edition of Forbes magazine runs a special report on the “Best Places” to jump-start a business or career. The Old Dominion comes out on top. Sayeth Forbes: “Texas and Virginia, with highly educated labor forces and relatively low business costs, score well on our annual ranking of the 150 biggest metros (population over 345,000), with seven areas in the top 20. No other state placed more than one locale in the upper echelon.”

It comes as no surprise that the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area ranks 4th in the country in a composite index that encompasses business costs, living costs, crime rate, engineers, unemployment and five-year annualized growth rate in jobs. Forbes notes that Northern Virginia is doing the heavy lifting for the metro area. “The unemployment rate for the nation’s capital is a staggering 7.1%, but a tight labor market in northern Virginia brings the rate for the metro area as a whole down to 3.1%, the fourth lowest in the country.”

The unexpected news is the strong performance of Hampton Roads and Richmond. So accustomed are we down-staters to marvelling at the economic performance of NoVa that we sometimes forget that RoVa (the Rest of Virginia) has something going for it as well.

Forbes rates “Norfolk”–I guess them Yankees still haven’t figured out that we locals refer to it as Hampton Roads–as No. 8 in the country. Although the high-tech employment rate is low and incomes lag the national average, the magazine writes, incomes have been growing at the eight-fastest rate in the country. (Forbes soon may need to update its perspective on high-tech employment in Hampton Roads. See my latest column, “SimCity” about the emergence of a world-class Modeling & Simulation” industry in the region.)

Richmond doesn’t get its own profile, but Forbes does rank it 14th out of the 150 metro areas.

One could argue that Virginia warrants the uncontested top spot among states. All three of our major metro areas fall within the Top 20. While Texas has four in the Top 20 — Austin, Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth — it has four that are not, including three — San Antonio, Corpus Christi, McAllen and Brownsville — in the bottom half.

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