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Trigaux: As Florida seeks top 10 status as best business state, red flag rises on workforce

In the eternal quest to appeal more to business than other states, Florida's managed to haul itself out of some pretty mediocre years. After scoring an impressive 8 among 50 states way back in 2007, Florida suffered horribly during and immediately after the recession. Its rank sank as low as No. 30 only four years ago, but in more recent years rebounded to score a spot at No. 10 last year and a still commendable No. 12 this year.

Not boffo. Not landing among the elite states for business. Still, pretty darn good.

So sayeth 11 years of analyzing the best and worst states for business by CNBC. Since 2007, the business news TV/online channel each year has scored all 50 states on more than 60 measures of competitiveness based on input from a broad array of business and policy experts, official government sources, CNBC 's own Global CFO Council, the Young Presidents Organization and the states themselves.

This year, the state of Washington was No. 1 in CNBC's assessment thanks to its strong economy — led by heavyweights Amazon, Boeing and Microsoft — a workforce ranked among the top five and strong credentials in technology and innovation. Previous No. 1 winners include (from 2016 back to 2013) Utah, Minnesota, Georgia and South Dakota. Between 2012 and 2007, the top spot alternated between Virginia and Texas.

The CNBC rankings are just one of many that analyze states and their business appeal. Forbes, Chief Executive magazine and the Milken Institute are just some of the organizations that analyze states based on how hot, warm or cold they are when it comes to attracting businesses.

More than a decade of CNBC's probing of Florida is valuable. The Sunshine State landed at No. 8 in 2007 just before the deep recession and housing crisis damaged Florida's economic machine.

While Florida has since made competitive strides, the latest CNBC report cites weaknesses.

"The economy is hot in the Sunshine State," the 2017 report states, "but it's no day at the beach for the state's troubled schools."

CNBC placed Florida's "education" category at an embarrassing No. 40 among the states, tied with the schools of South Carolina.

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One surprise was the lukewarm ranking of No. 22 that CNBC assigned this year to Florida's "workforce." It makes sense, I suppose, given the particularly poor education ranking.

That was not always the case. In 2008 and again in 2010, Florida's workforce ranked No. 1 nationally in the CNBC rankings, and between 2008 and 2014 never fell below No. 4.

Florida officials still brag about the state's workforce. Perhaps they are looking backwards, not ahead.

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Consider this a wake-up call, Florida. To drop from No. 1 to No. 22 in workforce quality in just four years is worrisome.

So in what categories is Florida doing best these days? CNBC credits the state for its especially strong economy (No. 2 behind Georgia), in its access to capital (No. 4) and infrastructure (No. 7).

So, Florida: Celebrate the pockets of strength and the state's overall No. 12 standing. But figure out how to improve those weak spots.

Better get crackin'.

Contact Robert Trigaux at [email protected] Follow @venturetampabay.


How's Florida doing for business?

Better lately but still missing top 10 status

Year Rank among 50 states

2017 12

2016 10

2015 16

2014 20

2013 30

2012 28

2011 18*

2010 28

2009 28

2008 17

2007 8

* Tied with Tennessee

Source: CNBC annual "America's top states for business" rankings

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