Virginia third best state for business, Maryland falls to 31st

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Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

Crummy roads and looming federal budget cuts kept Virginia from recapturing its title as "America's Top State for Business," while Maryland finds itself on a three-year skid that netted a 31st-place finish.

Texas took the top honors in this year's CNBC's rankings, swapping places with Virginia, which finished No. 1 in 2011. Texas and Virginia usually take turns atop the list every year since it started in 2007.

But Virginia this year slipped to third place thanks largely to the state's congestion issues. Virginia's infrastructure and transportation ranking fell from 10th in 2011 to 33rd. Billions in scheduled federal budget cuts will disproportionately impact Virginia, also affecting its short fall to third.

"We want to be No. 1 in every rating, every year," said Jeff Caldwell, spokesman for Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. "That being said, for the sixth straight year, Virginia is one of the top 3 states in America for business. That's a notable, bipartisan accomplishment."

Across the Potomac, Maryland fell from 29th to 31st with particularly low rankings for its cost of business (42), infrastructure and transportation (43) and cost of living (43).

States are scored on 43 measurements divided into 10 categories with input from business groups like the National Association of Manufacturers and the Council on Competitiveness.

Virginia's scores dropped in six of the categories but it still topped Maryland in seven of them. Maryland finished higher in technology and innovation, education and access to capital.

Utah ranked second this year. North Carolina and North Dakota rounded out the top 5. Rhode Island finished last for the second straight year.

"We tip our hat to Utah and Texas and are pleased to see conservative policies proving so effective in those states as well," Caldwell said, "but we fully expect to be taking back the top spot next year."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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