Chatter over the latest best and worst states to do business in survey, a poll of some 400 CEOs from Chief Executive magazine, reads like the famous line from the movie Bravehart. The one where Mel Gibson, playing Scottish Knight William Wallace, exclaims: “They may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!”
States across the U.S., of course, aren’t battling an English monarchy for independence. But in citing the best states for a pro-business climate, business leaders consistently praise Florida for mostly keeping the state open for business amid the pandemic.
That’s why Florida, for the second straight year, ranked No. 2 in the report, sandwiched between Texas and Tennessee. The bottom five states, also unchanged, were usual suspects Washington, New Jersey, Illinois, New York and California.
While the rankings were static, the survey’s comments from freedom-loving CEOs are a sign of how important business climate — not merely subsidies and tax breaks —is to a company’s relocation and expansion decisions. “From high profile headhunting for high-net worth Wall Streeters to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ flaunting of open beaches — and open businesses — throughout the pandemic, the Sunshine State is the clear winner in last year’s economic perception derby,” the report states. Other comments include:
• South Motors Group CEO Jonathan Chariff says Florida’s response to the pandemic was “a tremendous factor,” in his decision to open some $40 million in new BMW and Honda dealerships in Miami. “Florida is blowing up,” Chariff says in the report. “Except for the extra traffic, it’s great.”
• “Sunshine, low taxes, Covid openness: What talent wouldn’t want to move there?” asks Kathy Mussio, partner with Atlas Insight development consultants in Washington, D.C. “You can save enough in taxes compared with the Northeast to make a down payment on a house in Florida.”