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Ryan Johnson, Published July 10 2012

North Dakota ranked No. 5 for business

FARGO – Booming oil development in the Bakken oil formation helped North Dakota take the title of the country’s fifth-best state for business, according to new survey results released Tuesday by CNBC.

In the sixth-annual survey that scored each state based on 10 broad categories of competitiveness, North Dakota ranked No. 2 for its strong economy – the fastest growing in the country – falling behind only Wyoming in this category.

“I’m not surprised at all,” said Andy Peterson, president of the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce, about the state’s move from No. 13 last year to No. 5 in the most recent survey.

He said North Dakota boasts a state government that “works,” in addition to low income and corporate tax rates and a tax, legal and regulatory environment that businesses like.

“We’ve always got room for growth,” he said. “But we’re getting there, and that’s a great thing for everyone in North Dakota.”

North Dakota had an overall score of 1,529 out of a possible 2,500 points. The state earned high marks in the business friendliness and quality of life categories, coming in fourth and fifth, respectively, and also ranked among the top 20 states in five other categories.

Texas was ranked the top state for business with a score of 1,604 points, followed by Utah, Virginia and North Carolina. Minnesota ranked No. 11, down from No. 7 last year.

Craig Whitney, president and CEO of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce, said the CNBC ranking gives North Dakota another thing to brag about.

“It’s just another signal that the country and people all around the country are really starting to pay more and more attention to our great state,” he said.

But Whitney said he didn’t agree with CNBC’s view of the state in the technology and innovation category – North Dakota was ranked No. 47.

He said there may be some parts of the state that lag in this area. But Whitney said Fargo already has a strong cluster of businesses, including Microsoft, Phoenix International, Pedigree Technologies and research at North Dakota State University, that should have boosted the state’s performance in this category.

“I don’t know how a state our size, and a market our size, could have much more innovation and technology than we do,” he said.

North Dakota also ranked low (No. 43) in the access to capital category. Peterson said it is an issue, but officials are aware of it and are working to improve this part of doing business in the state.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587

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