Saturday, February 24, 2018
Business

Trigaux: Don't tell Gov. Scott where Florida ranks on Forbes 'Best Business' list

It's a very fair bet Florida Gov. Rick Scott will not be issuing a news release today with this headline: Forbes ranks Florida No. 20, down from No. 19, on annual list of best states for business!

While that's not a bad ranking — 30 states trail Florida this year, after all — it hardly sends the kind of marketing message Scott wants to peddle on his business recruiting visit to other states like Kentucky, New York, Connecticut or California. True, Florida outranks all those states on the Forbes list but saying "Pull up your stakes to come to the 20th best state for business" is not exactly a compelling pitch. Nor is Florida's slipping a spot since 2014 any endorsement of progress.

Especially when Forbes, like the governor, loves the same kind of business conditions (no unions, cheap labor, low taxes, little regulation) that Scott has been pushing Florida toward ever since he was elected.

Still, a 20th spot is respectable if not exactly leadership status. In the previous three years, Florida has ranked 19th, 22nd and 27th.

The 2015 rankings by Forbes puts Utah at No. 1 with high marks across the board for business costs and labor supply (both third), regulatory and economic climates (both sixth), growth prospects (first) and quality of life (21st).

At No. 20, Florida won these marks for business costs (38th), labor supply (21st), regulatory climate (16th), economic climate (17th) and quality of life (35th). In the single category where Florida did shine — growth prospects — the state came in an impressive No. 3, behind only smaller population states Arizona (No. 1) and Nevada (No. 2) with a projected 2.7 percent growth rate for jobs over the next five years.

Here's how Forbes characterized Florida: "Between 2006 and 2011, the bursting of the housing bubble crushed Florida's economy, with home prices sinking 47 percent statewide. The decline catapulted Florida into having the highest percentage of business closures over the past three years."

Then Forbes injects some optimism. "Florida's economy is, however, on the rebound. The state's job growth is expected to be third best in the country over the next five years and income growth fourth fastest."

That's something to embrace.

Contact Robert Trigaux at [email protected] Follow @venturetampabay.

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