The overall U.S. economy started to slow in Q1 2022, with GDP falling by 1.4 percent. Nevertheless, many states continue to see new expansions and investments from both domestic and foreign companies. Manufacturing, life sciences and tech remain hot sectors in the Northeast and Southeast. (Ranks below refer to state’s rank in the 2022 Chief Executive Best & Worst States for Business.)
EXPANDING INTERNATIONAL PROFILE
In 2021, Enterprise Florida assisted in more than $2 billion in capital investments and the creation of 12,000 jobs. Announcements included an expansion by Boeing with 334 jobs in Jacksonville. Additionally, Dun & Bradstreet announced the city as its new corporate headquarters.
The state is now doubling down to sell itself and its “stayed open” success to the world. In 2021, EFI started the Florida International Trade Expo and conducted 4,500 export consultations with more than 2,000 companies in 62 countries. “Florida’s leadership, open economy and business-friendly environment have sent a signal to the country and the world that the Sunshine State is the place where abundant opportunity and growth awaits,” said Holly Borgmann, vice chair of the Enterprise Florida Board of Directors.
VOLUNTEERING TO DRIVE GROWTH
In 2021, the Volunteer State welcomed 130 projects worth $12.8 billion in investments and helped create more than 34,000 job commitments. Oracle announced 8,500 jobs at a $1.2 billion hub in Nashville. Thermo Fisher Scientific announced 1,400 jobs at a manufacturing facility in Wilson County, and Ultium Cells will create 1,300 jobs at a $2.3 billion battery cell manufacturing plant in Spring Hill. This all comes on the heels of Ford’s announcement of its Blue Oval City megacampus being built in the state. ATC Drivetrain announced in March 2022 a new manufacturing facility in Knoxville that will create 218 jobs.
“Tennessee has become a national hub for the automotive industry with our highly skilled workforce, thriving economy and strong business climate,” said Gov. Bill Lee in a press release.
#5 NORTH CAROLINA
GREENER PASTURES POST-PANDEMIC
In 2021, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina secured 174 corporate relocations and expansions, leading to 24,000 jobs and more than $10 billion in capital investments. Toyota announced a $1.29 billion electric vehicle plant and 1,750 new jobs at the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite, while Eli Lilly announced a $1 billion facility and nearly 600 jobs in Concord.
The momentum continued into 2022 with announcements by Nucor Corporation and Macy’s. Vietnamese electric vehicle and battery company VinFast announced a $4 billion investment and 7,500 new jobs in Chatham County. The state’s workforce, quality of life and business-friendly policies “appeal to both businesses and individuals seeking greener pastures in a post-pandemic world,” said Christopher Chung, CEO of EDPNC.
ECONOMIC PROMISE IN THE PEACH STATE
Georgia nearly doubled its jobs and investment in the past year. Between July 2021 and March 2022, the global commerce team supported 251 project locations, resulting in more than 35,000 new jobs and $12.9 billion in investments. Electric mobility is one bright spot. Electric truck manufacturer Rivian announced a $5 billion campus and 7,500 new jobs, the single-largest economic development project in state history, said Georgia Department of Economic Development COO Brittany Young. “Georgia offers the right mix of elements that companies need to succeed. It has a skilled and diverse workforce, robust and integrated infrastructure, and affordable cost of living in a moderate climate,” said Young.
#12 SOUTH CAROLINA
DRIVING THE FUTURE OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES
The Palmetto State is quickly raising its profile in the electric vehicle industry. In March 2022, the U.S. Postal Service announced a nearly $3 billion deal to build 50,000 zero-emission electric vehicles in Spartanburg County. Electric transit vehicle company Proterra also announced a $76 million investment and 200 new jobs. Additionally, BMW Group, which has invested nearly $12 billion in its South Carolina operations since 1992, is manufacturing two plug-i hybrid electric models in the state.
“We’ve worked hard for years to cultivate our reputation as a global leader in the automotive industry, and we will ensure our continued success with the speed we are gaining in the electric vehicle market,” stated Harry Lightsey, South Carolina’s secretary of commerce.
A LEADER IN LIFE SCIENCE INNOVATION
Virginia continues to grow as a hub for life sciences innovation with new development in Fairfax and Henrico counties. In March 2022, Thermo Fisher Scientific announced a $97 million expansion and 500 jobs in Richmond. “This sector has gained significant momentum in the commonwealth due to our research institutions, skilled talent and advanced innovation ecosystem, and we are proud of the company’s developments happening right here in Virginia,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin in a press release. Also, real estate information provider CoStar Group announced a $460 million expansion and 2,000 new jobs in Richmond. Distribution is also growing, with Amazon, AutoZone and Mondelez International announcing major distribution hubs in the state.
FORWARD IN THE FIRST STATE
Delaware continues to attract new fintech and biotech investments. In December 2021, Investor Cash Management announced a new headquarters and 395 jobs in Wilmington. Life sciences company Analytical Biological Sciences announced in 2021 an expansion at its headquarters and lab space in Wilmington, with 36 new jobs.
B&M Meats also announced an $18 million production facility and 190 new jobs in Wilmington. Medical technology company Hologic announced a $24 million expansion and 225 new jobs at the Glasgow Business Community in Newark. LaMotte Company, a water-quality testing instrumentation and reagent company, announced a $3.3 million investment to build out its lab space in Wilmington and add 100 jobs.
#21 NEW HAMPSHIRE
HIGH GROWTH, LOW STRESS
WalletHub recently ranked New Hampshire one of the least stressed states in the nation at No. 47. While the slow pace of life may not attract earth-shattering projects, businesses and talent are taking notice. Exports from the state hit a record high in 2021 of $6.4 billion, a 16.7 percent increase from 2020. Two top exports driving the growth include electrical and industrial machinery.
“We’re proud that New Hampshire companies helped alleviate shortages in the global supply chain in 2021, specifically in essential products, like automotive and computer components, said Taylor Caswell, BEA commissioner.
ELECTRIFYING THE AUTO INDUSTRY
The Bluegrass State is also building on its strength in automaking by attracting new investments in the electric vehicle industry. In April 2022, Japanese electric vehicle battery company Envision AESC announced a $2 billion Gigafactory and 2,000 new jobs in Bowling Green. The facility will produce valuable battery cells and modules to power the next generation of electric vehicles. This comes on the heels of an announcement last year by Ford Motor and South Korea-based SK Innovation to build two battery manufacturing plants in Glendale. The $5.8 billion investment is expected to create 5,000 jobs.
DIVERSIFYING APPROACH TO ENERGY
In 2021, the Bayou State doubled its capital investments to more than $20 billion from 64 projects. These projects created more than 18,000 jobs, spanning sectors like agribusiness, advanced manufacturing, and life sciences. Louisiana is also diversifying beyond its petroleum base, announcing six clean energy projects in 2021 representing more than $6.1 billion in capital and 1,500 jobs. As of April 2022, three more clean energy projects had been announced in the new year.
“Louisiana has adopted an approach to energy that is ‘all of the above,’” said Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson. “We are supporting the state’s legacy energy producers in chemicals and oil and gas to respond to the market and their customers on the long ramp toward NetZero carbon emissions.”
Fueled by investments from companies like Nucor and Zekelman Industries, Arkansas’ steel industry has grown nearly 30 percent in the past decade. In January 2022, U.S. Steel announced a $3 billion project that will make Mississippi County the biggest steel-producing county in the nation.
Arkansas announced several other projects in the past year, including Trex Company, Vista Outdoor and Canoo. Mike Preston, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Commerce, attributes the growing interest in the state to its friendly business environment and the low taxes and regulations. “We boast a reliable workforce, a low cost of living and a high quality of life—and businesses across the nation are taking notice,” said Preston.
EXPORTING A NEW FUTURE
Maine is a small state with a growing profile on the global stage. In 2021, Maine-based companies exported more than $3.1 billion in goods to more than 177 markets. International trade now supports one in five jobs.
DeepWater Buoyancy now exports more than a third of its products internationally, and Guilford-based Puritan Medical Products has since added three plants and 1,200 new employees. “Businesses and individuals like these are shining examples of the many businesses and people who made it happen and will make it happen into the future,” said Wade Merritt, president of the Maine International Trade Center.
A HUB FOR HIGH-TECH
Tech is thriving in Maryland. Between May 2021 and April 2022, the state’s tech workforce grew 8.42 percent, the highest rate of any state in the nation, according to a report by the Technology Councils of North America. “Maryland is brimming with career potential for tech workers, and an outstanding quality of life sweetens the deal,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill in a press release. “We’ve known that Maryland is the best state in the nation for tech careers, and this report proves that workers are taking notice, too.” High-tech companies continue to announce new expansions in Maryland. In May 2022, Greenland Technologies announced a manufacturing facility in Annapolis.
#33 RHODE ISLAND
SUPPORTING SMALL BUSINESSES
Little Rhody has been going to great lengths to shore up its small businesses in the past couple of years. The state has granted more than $51 million in awards to 4,100 small businesses, with up to $30,000 for each company. State officials also announced another program in January 2022 that offers direct financial assistance of up to $5,000 for each qualifying business.
“These past two years have taken a significant toll on our small business community,” said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos in a press release. “Some small businesses have shut their doors, and others are barely getting by…These funds will boost our small business economy and provide owners the temporary relief they so desperately need.”
EYING A FUTURE IN ELECTRIC CARS
The Cotton State is doubling down on its strengths in the auto sector to ensure it has a prime seat at the table in electric vehicle manufacturing. In April 2022, Hyundai announced plans to build electric cars in the state. Mercedes Benz also opened a new E.V. battery plant near its Alabama assembly plant in March 2022, where it will begin building two electric SUVs later this year. Last year, the state’s auto sector recorded new investments totaling $536 million and over 1,400 new job commitments. The activity came from increasing OEM production, including a ramp-up at the new Mazda Toyota joint venture assembly plant and new models on Alabama assembly lines, including electric vehicles.
BUILDING BACK IN THE KEYSTONE STATE
The Keystone State is doubling down on its manufacturing sector with a mixed bag of projects. Homegrown manufacturer Bunting created 79 jobs at an expansion in Lawrence County. Manufactured-home builder Cavco Industries announced 55 new jobs at an expansion of its operations in Clarion-Butler County. Australian Company Easy Signs announced in March 130 new jobs at a manufacturing operation in Allentown. Black Buffalo 3D Corporation also announced the relocation of its manufacturing operations from New Jersey to Monroe County.
“Manufacturing has long been a key part of the commonwealth’s economy, and we have much to offer the industry, from our skilled workforce to prime Northeast location and more,” said Gov. Tom Wolf in a press release.
MOVING UP IN THE MAGNOLIA STATE
The Magnolia State continues to attract new investments in manufacturing and timber mills. In April, Enviva, a leading global energy company specializing in sustainable wood bioenergy, announced 100 jobs at a $250 million manufacturing operation in Bond. In January 2022, Walmart announced 250 new jobs at a fulfillment center in Olive Branch, while Scotsman Manufacturing company began operations in Laurel with 85 new jobs.
“When homegrown companies stay in Mississippi to plant roots and begin creating jobs in our communities, it truly does make a statement to other companies that we are a great place to do business,” said Mississippi Development Authority Interim Executive Director Laura Hipp.
#39 WEST VIRGINIA
MOVING UP THE MOUNTAIN
In recent years, the Mountain State has continually climbed the rankings with new accolades from Fortune 1000 executives in a remarkable turnaround from a decline in the coal industry. Clearway Energy Group recently completed a $460 million wind energy project, one of the largest and most advanced in the region. There have also been new investments by manufacturers like Veloxint, Omnis Building Technologies and Italy-based manufacturer Fanti USA. Fanti announced in April 2022 the location of its first U.S. production facility in Weirton. “Being the home of a company’s first United States facility is a great honor, and we are excited that Fanti USA says, ‘Yes, West Virginia,’” said West Virginia Department of Economic Development Secretary Mitch Carmichael.
Vermont’s impressive 2.5 percent unemployment rate sounds good on paper but has left employers struggling to find workers, a trend that was already in play before the pandemic. The latest data indicates eight of the state’s 14 counties have experienced labor-force declines of 10 percent or more since their peak. Gov. Phil Scott is now proposing a 2023 budget that will use funding to help make the state more affordable in areas like housing. In April 2022, Vermont held the largest job fair in state history in Essex Junction, with more than 150 employers and 1,200 job seekers.
“Our strategy to grow the workforce cannot just be about training—it must be about meeting the needs of families. That’s why my workforce proposals also include things like housing, affordability and jobs,” said Scott.
PLAYING ECONOMIC OFFENSE
Connecticut’s economy grew at an annual rate of 7.7 percent in Q4 2021, the 12th highest rate in the nation. The state is now “playing offense,” said AdvanceCT CEO Peter Denious, with the public and private sectors strategically working together in key industries. More than $1.6 billion in public and private sector investments have driven projects in distressed communities, workforce development, and the innovation corridor.
Connecticut’s Innovation Corridor is now home to thousands of companies seeking talent and customers. The state is also home to 15 Fortune 500 companies and 25 Fortune 1000 companies. “Our world-class workforce is our greatest selling point. We have some of the most highly educated and talented workers in the nation,” said AdvanceCT’s Denious, in a press release.
BIG BETS ON NEW DEVELOPMENT
Despite downward economic indicators in Q1 2022, the Bay State continues to see new announcements and expansions. Swiss technology company Nextthink announced plans to double its U.S. presence with a new headquarters in Boston. Additionally, Israeli diagnostics firm MeMed is embarking on a $93 million expansion at its local headquarters in Boston.
As of May 2022, Gov. Charlie Baker was urging the approval of a $3.5 billion economic development plan that would use American Rescue Plan Act funds and borrowing to fund economic development plans and hundreds of shovel-ready projects to help Massachusetts cities attract new investments.
#47 NEW JERSEY
While New Jersey remains a hub for biosciences, it is also making substantial progress in rebuilding its manufacturing sector. The state’s manufacturing output grew at a 5.8 percent annualized rate between Q4 2017 and Q4 2021, making it the seventh-best in the country and well higher than the average national growth rate of 2.6 percent.
“The strength of the New Jersey manufacturing sector has been a huge contributor to the state’s economic momentum,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, in a press release. “And, with major investments underway, like the New Jersey Wind Port and Hax in Newark, the future of manufacturing in New Jersey is bright.”
#49 NEW YORK
NEW STRENGTH IN SEMICONDUCTORS
The Empire State is eyeing new opportunities in the semiconductor industry. In April 2022, semiconductor developer Wolfspeed opened the world’s largest silicon carbide fabrication facility in Oneida County. New York currently has 10 semiconductor research sites with expenditures over $350 million and is striving to establish the Albany Nanotech Complex as a primary R&D hub and the headquarters of the proposed National Semiconductor Technology Center.
“As supply chain concerns and global conflicts continue to impact the production of microchips, New York stands ready to spearhead the revitalization of the semiconductor industry domestically,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul in a press release.
Much of the growth in the capital region continues to be driven by new expansions and announcements in Fairfax, Virginia. In May 2022, Boeing announced it would move its headquarters from Chicago to the D.C. area in Arlington to be closer to key federal government officials. Competitor defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman are already based there.
Downtown D.C.’s central business district is still trying to return workers to offices since the start of the pandemic. In March 2022, a pandemic recovery committee on the city council approved a recommendation to explore transforming the district with more vibrant mixed uses and to support the creation of job centers.