Nevada comes in near bottom of latest business ranking | NevadaAppeal.com
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Nevada comes in near bottom of latest business ranking

BRIAN DUGGAN
bduggan@nevadaappeal.com

Another month, another ranking.

Nevada was named one of the worst states to do business by CNBC this week, less than a month after Chief Executive Magazine named it one of the best.

In its fourth annual survey, CNBC said Nevada ranked No. 47 overall, followed by Hawaii, Rhode Island and Alaska.

CNBC’s American Top States for Business measured 40 different metrics in every state in 10 categories: Cost of doing business, workforce, quality of life, economy, transportation and infrastructure, technology and innovation, education, business friendliness, access to capital and cost of living.

Texas took the top spot at No. 1 followed by Virginia and Colorado. California tied for No. 32. The Silver State ranked No. 49 last year and No. 43 in 2007, the first year of CNBC’s study.

In June, Nevada was named the No. 5 state to do business based on a survey of 651 CEOs who based their rankings on taxation, regulations, quality of workforce and living environment. Texas was No. 1 in that survey, too. California ranked last.

“Depending on the sources, we’ll either be the top five or the bottom five,” said Brian Bonnenfant, project manager at the Center for Regional Studies at University of Nevada, Reno. “It’s sort of a conflicting message depending on the source where we rank.”

In the CNBC study, Nevada was ranked last for education at No. 50, and tied with Rhode Island for the worst economy in the nation. Education was measured by K-12 test scores, class size, spending and the number of higher education institutions in the state.

Nevada did rank No. 15 for business friendliness, which considered the legal and regulatory framework for businesses in the state, and No. 19 for the quality and availability of its workforce.

David Leonard, the senior area manager for the Small Business Administration in Reno, said it’s easy to understand why Nevada was ranked so low on education, but less so for things like quality of life where it ranked No. 37.

He agreed that Nevada’s low marks for access to capital is warranted (Nevada ranked No. 40, down from No. 36 in 2009), but the state is coming off one of the worst years for lending since the Great Depression and the national recovery has yet to make its way here.

He said geography may play a part, too.

“In Washoe County we’re starting to see some recovery happening,” Leonard said. “It is a tough time still, unemployment is still a big issue.

“I think part of what’s happening here … two-thirds of the population in the southern part of the state is driving some of these statistics.”

Bonnenfant said he understands Nevada’s low marks for education and the economy – “Kick you when you’re down,” he said – but others such as quality of life and transportation could differ depending on where someone lives. And in some cases, that could also apply to education and the economy.

“It’s the southern part of the state that really drags the entire state down,” Bonnenfant said. “There’s probably good jewels in areas that are doing very well, but they get pulled into these rankings that do not reflect that economy in that pocket of Nevada.”

He said these studies – good or bad – usually do little to tell the whole story of an economy, generalizing instead of explaining nuances.

“It provides a 30,000-foot view for the armchair reading Joe Sixpack, but when you get into these indicators there’s just a whole bunch more you need to look at than these simplified studies,” he said. “It’s entertaining press for us to read, and it does spark discussion. This provides food for thought, there’s just so much more below the radar.”