News & Politics

Virginia Named America’s Top State for Business by CNBC for Second Year in a Row

Maryland, meanwhile, came in as the most improved state.

Photograph by Andrew Beaujon.

For the second year in a row—and the fifth time in 14 years— CNBC has named Virginia as America’s Top State for Business. 

The commonwealth took first place in the business news network’s 2021 rankings, which compares each of the 50 states in a number of categories, including cost of doing business, technology and innovation, and access to capital. 

According to CNBC, Virginia’s competitive strength is rooted in its top notch public school and higher education systems. As a result, Virginias’s workforce is among the nation’s best educated; nearly four in ten workers in the state have at least a bachelor’s degree, according to CNBC. 

Indeed, the state’s highly educated workforce was one of the reasons that Amazon decided to locate its HQ2 in Crystal City. (Of course, proximity to the federal decision makers that the e-commerce giant needs to influence was a factor as well.)

But Virginia wasn’t the only nearby state to get some good news from the CNBC rankings. Maryland was the most improved state in the ranking, jumping 19 spots from the previous report to take 12th place overall. The sharp improvement was linked to Maryland’s high performance in the areas of broadband connectivity and power grids—metrics that were added to this year’s rankings.

DC was not included in the rankings.

Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.