Cable network gives Conn. low marks for business climate

Forget about being one of the best states in which to do business - Connecticut now ranks as fifth worst, according to CNBC's ranking of "America's Top States for Business" in 2014.

The ranking, one notch lower than the Nutmeg State recorded last year, comes in the midst of a campaign by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association to raise the state's business ranking into the Top 20 by 2017. The so-called CT20x17 campaign, launched earlier this year and supported by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's administration, focuses on reducing business costs, improving the economy, developing better infrastructure and improving the state's quality of life.

"Unfortunately, these rankings reinforce the perception that Connecticut is not a good place to do business," said John Rathgeber, CBIA's president and chief executive, in a statement released late last week. "It's critical that we address those areas that are hampering economic growth, particularly the high cost of doing business, taxes, government red tape and our aging transportation infrastructure."

The CBIA noted that the state showed improvement over the past year in four categories, but fell in two of the most critical - the economy, which covers such areas as economic growth, job creation and fiscal health, and the cost of doing business, which is based on wages, utility costs, taxes and office costs, among other factors.

"Connecticut comes in 46th in this year's rankings, with the fourth-highest cost of doing business, third-highest cost of living and the nation's second-worst economy; only Alaska's is worse," according to the CNBC report.

CNBC noted Connecticut's "world-class education and strong access to capital," but said its high cost of living has "hampered the economy."

The CBIA noted, however, that the cable network's analysis was conducted using some old data and didn't reflect recent improvements in jobs, regulatory reforms and energy costs.

Still, the state's changes did reflect in some of the rankings, as Connecticut improved seven spots to No. 42 in infrastructure and transportation and five spots to No. 32 in workforce. The state also was ranked three notches higher to No. 14 in quality of life and two notches up to No. 24 in business friendliness.

And, while a dramatic improvement in the business climate is largely dependent on a better statewide economy, at least one state made a huge leap this year that Connecticut could emulate. Nevada, ranked 47th nationally last year, leapt to 29th this year, thanks to dramatic job growth and a recovering housing market.

CNBC ranked Georgia as the top state for doing business this year. Rhode Island came in at the bottom.

Connecticut's No. 46 business ranking by CNBC is not far off from Chief Executive Magazine's Best & Worst States to Do Business list that placed Connecticut at No. 44 nationally.


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