In the governor's race, Gov. Chris Gregoire understandably often cites the state's recent rating by Forbes magazine, which names Washington as the third best state for business. The magazine's annual ranking put Virginia first and Utah second; Idaho retains its high rank, this year as 7th. Oregon finished 16th, Colorado is 6th, Minnesota is 11th, Montana is 24th, California is 40th, and Alaska is 48th.
Two states are interesting examples of economic growth, Virginia and Georgia. Virginia has held the top spot for the past three years, having low regulations, strong incentive programs to lure new business, and an educated labor force from around D.C. Georgia has parlayed the Atlanta Summer Olympics, which put it on the map, into being a state attracting young professionals and drawing businesses from overseas; its airport is one of the world's busiest and Savannah is the fastest-growing port in the country.
As for Washington, the state scores well in labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, and growth prospects, but does less well in business costs (28th) and (oddly) quality of life (25th). Oregon does best in labor supply and growth prospects, poorly in its regulatory environment. Washington moved up from 5th last year, while Oregon vaulted from 28th. Others in the Forbes's top 10 are North Carolina, Florida, Texas, and Nebraska.
The formula for scoring high as a business-friendly state appears to be: a growing pool of educated workers, low business costs (including such things as the "tort atmosphere"), strong transportation networks, and strong prospects for growth. In two of these, labor supply and prospects for growth, Washington ranked second in the nation; Oregon was third in labor supply. Two local states showed rapid movement up the scale: Oregon and Montana.