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Robert Trigaux

New Site Selection magazine ranks Florida at No. 13 for best business climate



Scrippsfloridarenderingjupiter Influential Site Selection magazine just unveiled its rankings for states by quality of business climate. Florida came it at No. 13 -- not exactly a leader but then again there are dozens of states behind the Sunshine State. Here's the main story. (Photo: Rendering of Scripps Research Florida facility in Jupiter, one of the biggest (and most expensive) business recruiting successes in modern Florida history.)

There's a great lesson for Florida -- if it will ever bother to learn it -- in Site Selection's analysis of which state was named the No. 1 leader. Again. Here's how the story starts:

"How has North Carolina managed to rank No. 1 in Site Selection’s annual business climate rankings eight times in the past nine years? It may have something to do with its infrastructure of higher learning.

“'When I worked for the state department of commerce in the late nineties, I could count on one hand the number of projects in a five-year period that had serious conversations with our university system,' says Leslie Boney, now associate vice president for economic development research, policy and planning for the University of North Carolina’s 16-campus system. 'Now it’s hard to find a project that does not involve a conversation with our university system.'"

DraperLabSt Okay Florida, re-read those two paragraphs. If you want to climb the evolutionary ladder of business recruiting and development -- as you keep claiming you do -- then stop yapping so much about supporting higher education and put some genuine muscle into the public university system. And don't forget K-12, the feeder system, or Florida's universities will have to spend the first year of a college experience offering remedial instruction to first-year students. Not a formula for success. (Photo: Preparing to enter the "clean room" manufacturing site at recently recruited Draper Lab. Its new facility in St. Petersburg will make miniaturized multi-ship modules. By Cherie Diez of the St. Petersburg Times.)

We are improving here in Florida. But not enough for Florida to crack the Top Ten in Site Selection's rankings. The good news is Site Selection separately asked business executives what states they thought were tops for business climate and Florida did better, coming in at No. 9.

Here's Site Selection's  Top Ten: North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana and Kentucky.

And here's the business executives' Top Ten: Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Alabama, Ohio, Florida, Colorado.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, to a certain point.

And what was the No.1 factor that Site Selection's real estate executives picked in determining site location? Transportation infrastructure. Keep that in mind as Tampa Bay tries to muddle its way toward a regional mass transportation system. 

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:26am]


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