It’s the 11th time CNBC has ranked America’s top states for business based on ten standard criteria that paint a portrait of strength and weaknesses. The State of Washington earned top honors this year as Ohio moved up to 16 from 22 last year.
But in two key categories – Quality of Life (QOL) and Business Friendliness (BF) – the results for the Buckeye State were depressing, if not alarming, as Ohio won 40th place for the former and 37th for the latter.
Gov. John Kasich made a big deal when he first ran for the top office in 2010, saying how unfriendly Ohio was to businesses who want savvy business pros who can work at “the speed of business.” He took bows for CEO Magazine’s 2016 business survey of company leaders that showed Ohio had the most improved business climate in the nation.
“The fact that the nation’s CEOs now see Ohio as a top ten state in which to do business is solid recognition of the jobs-friendly business climate we have worked so hard to create here,” he said. “This is also a salute to JobsOhio, our more agile and effective economic development engine. It’s clear our formula is working: cutting taxes, fiscal responsibility, building a skilled workforce and common sense regulations.”
But as Plunderbund reported at the time, JobsOhio has been pumped up by friends of Kasich who routinely misrepresent the power and production of the private and secret group.
Ohio’s low ranking this year on that single criteria shows how shallow pubic relations is when matched against other states that have better business climates as a function of better QOL and BF.
For those not schooled in economic development, QOL is often times more important than tax rates or other business criteria site selection professionals review when looking for the best place for a company to expand or relocate to.
As usual in surveys of this kind, Ohio does well on infrastructure, pulling in at fifth. Workforce tops CNBC’s ten criteria, so Ohio’s rank of 31st in that key category isn’t great news, since the size and quality of a state’s workforce is what companies look for as they shop states for the best deal.
For all the candidates for governor next year – four each for Republicans and Democrats so far – these numbers tell their own tales. For whomever voters entrust the job of governor, shouldering the state’s burdens and boosting its opportunities will be an uphill climb.
What could trash Ohio’s chances to move up the CNBC ladder is the fate of the Affordable Care Act. If Republicans in Washington have their way with repeal and replace of Obamacare, the hit Ohio is likely to take will lead to more unemployment, more business failures, especially hospitals, many of them rural hospitals, a domino effect that will pressure unemployment programs, among other state and federal safety net programs.
CNBC didn’t measure job creation in its analysis, but those who do know those number know that Ohio under the Kasich Administration has under performed the national job creation average for 54 consecutive months. That’s not a recipe for success, especially now that Kasich’s last budget was deficient by a billion or more.
When spending cuts is the tool used to balance the budget because raising revenue from those individuals and companies who can and should pay more is a non-starter for Republicans, even though other states have take that path least traveled to their benefit, the path back to prosperity will be rough and tough.