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Allen Jezouit, @BerkshireCountyBusiness

Massachusetts Ranked #5 in CNBC's Top States for Business 2010!

Can you imagine? Massachusetts was ranked #5 in CNBC's recent survey of the top states for business in 2010. While it should come as no surprise that the top four are:

1) Texas (1508 points)
2) Virginia (1477)
3) Colorado (1456)
4) North Carolina (1381)

I have to admit that as a small business owner who consults with a lot of other small businesses I am stunned about Massachusetts earning a #5 ranking, up from #8 in 2009 and #12 in 2007. To hear most people talk, Massachusetts is one tough place to do business. How did it happen?

Let's dig into the numbers a bit. According to CNBC.com, the states are ranked on 40 different metrics in 10 key categories. The maximum score possible is 2,500. #1 Texas scored 1,508 while Massachusetts scored 1,375. Although Massachusetts ranked relatively low in such areas as Cost of Doing Business (#39 out of 50), Transportation & Infrastructure (#39), and Cost of Living (#40), we ranked very well in such areas as Education (#1), Access to Capital (#2), Technology & Innovation (#3), and Quality of Life (#6).

Berkshire County's neighboring states certainly do not fair was well. New York is ranked #24, Connecticut is #35, and Vermont is #37. However, New York was second only to Pennsylvania in terms of year over year improvement in overall rank. Pennsylvania moved up from #33 in 2009 to #20 in 2010, while New York improved 12 spots from #36 to #24. PA's Economy improving from #37 to #15 fueled their big move. Likewise New York's economy improving from #20 to #2 drove their big gain in overall rank. At the other end of the spectrum, Vermont was the biggest decliner in 2010 versus 2009, falling seven spots from #30 to #37.

Looking at the specifics of how NY, CT, and VT faired ... New York is ranked #50 in Cost of Doing Business, #49 in Workforce, #45 in Business Friendliness, and #43 in Cost of Living. Those 4 low scores really hamper New York's ability to compete. Connecticut is #47 in Cost of Doing Business and #45 in Cost Living. Vermont went from #35 in 2009 to #42 in 2010 for the Cost of Doing Business factor and from #36 to #40 on Access to Capital which contributed to the decline in their overall ranking.

The rest of the Northeast/New England struggles, too. New Hampshire is overall #19, Maine is #39, and Rhode Island is #49 (ouch!), making Massachusetts truly the jewel of the Northeast. So, while it is expensive to do business here, you get what you pay for:

- an educated workforce who enjoy the quality of life they get here

-a tradition of incubating innovative, high-tech companies in and around our world-leading education institutions

- banks willing to finance the innovation.

Let's hear it for Massachusetts!

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