Just as it did in the final basketball polls following the regular season, North Carolina - the state this time, not the university - ranks highest in Pollina Corporate Real Estate Inc.'s survey of pro-business states:
1. North Carolina
4. South Carolina
6. South Dakota
Kansas is ranked in another top 10, and this time it has nothing to do with basketball.
The Sunflower state is included in the Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States for 2008, a listing that analyzes factors that affect the ability of states to attract new businesses or encourage existing businesses to expand within the state.
And while the statistics used to compile the rankings have nothing to do with basketball, the standings could be considered every bit as competitive.
Using 29 categories - including taxes, quality of life, human resources, labor, education, infrastructure and incentive programs - the study's authors indicate the best places to expand a business.
In Kansas' case, the state fared well by having a relatively high-quality work force, plus relatively low costs for utility services, unemployment insurance and workers compensation rates, said Brent Pollina, the study's lead author.
Kansas also has effective professionals working on economic-development activities at the state level, he said, reflecting a commitment from the governor's office.
But the state falls behind most other states when it comes to taxes, Pollina said. Kansas ranks No. 38 among states in terms of favorable corporate income tax rates and No. 25 for individual income tax rates.
"Kansas actually is one of the rare states out there that seems to being doing right by the business community in their state," said Pollina, vice president for the Chicago-based firm, which provides project-management services for Fortune 500 companies and others looking to expand into new areas of North America. "They have been constantly going over what the state government does and trying to make improvements on it, whereas most of the other states out there figure good enough is good enough."
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said that Kansas had made "smart investments" in schools, workers and in making strategic tax cuts - but that other changes would be necessary for the state to build on its momentum.
"The cost of health insurance is an increasing burden for businesses, so the next step must be to tackle comprehensive health care reform if we want to remain among the top pro-business states," Sebelius said.
Pollina started the listings five years ago, part of an effort to provide unbiased information to discussions about where the best places would be to consider locating an expanding business.
The rankings are relative, in that a state's placement is based upon where it relates to each of the other 49 states in all categories.
Kansas' previous rankings:
¢ 2007: 16
¢ 2006: 10
¢ 2005: 14
¢ 2004: 23
For more information about the study, visit www.pollina.com.