CNBC recently released its annual ranking of states I’m glad I don’t live in. This year, the top five are:
- South Dakota
- North Dakota
That’s an entire eighth of America that, with the exception of Austin, Texas, where I would not want to relocate a business no matter how much you paid me. I think I only know one Rhode Islander who ever left the Ocean State for any of these five states; point being we don’t have a lot in common with the states that do well in this study.
Conversely, let’s look at the bottom 10 states: Hawaii, Rhode Island, West Virginia, California, Nevada, Connecticut, Alaska, Louisiana, New Jersey, Mississippi, Maryland. 8 of 10 are coastal and only Mississippi doesn’t have a vibrant tourist sector. Is this an anomaly or is tourism secretly bad for business? Or does CNBC just not accurately factor tourism into their rankings?
There is one thing that troubles me about this ranking every year, and that’s that Rhode Island doesn’t do better in quality of life. This year we came in at 20.
Here’s, I think, where the Ocean State should be focusing its attention. Simply because of our small size and lack of abundant natural resources, we’re never going to beat South Dakota or Texas at attracting miserly CEOs. On the other hand, we really do have the potential to have the highest quality of life in the nation here in the Ocean State.
Small businesses, like the kind that could drive Rhode Island’s economy, tend to care more about quality of life issues. Big businesses, like Met Life, will go where the money is.
Or, as Ted Nesi put it.