Michigan’s workforce gets a C, but the state ranks in the top 20 best states for business

Michigan’s report card came back as a mixed bag this year in CNBC’s annual Top States for Business survey.

Overall, Michigan ranked 16th among the best states for business. Leading the pack was North Carolina and in last place was Mississippi.

Since 2007, CNBC has ranked states based on economic categories that reflect economic development and competitiveness. This year’s survey measured states by 88 measures in 10 categories.

Due to labor shortages, supply chain disruption, and inflation, the top-weighted categories were labor, infrastructure, and cost of doing business .

In all three categories, Michigan got off to a slow start with a C in labor and a C+ in infrastructure. Redeeming itself in cost of doing business, the state got an A.

A likely contributor to Michigan’s Gold Star on Cost of Business is the new $1 billion Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) fund.

In an interview with CNBC, Governor Gretchen Whitmer spoke about the shock of Ford moving its $11.4 billion electric vehicle plant to Tennessee.

“The historic blow to Michigan was that we didn’t have the same tools as other states to compete,” Whitmer said. “We were unfortunately seen as moving too slowly and our political environment was seen as dysfunctional.”

Just months after Ford’s announcement, the legislature and governor created the SOAR fund, a bipartisan effort. Since signing in December, the tax incentives have spurred a $7 billion investment from General Motors and Ford has made amends, announcing a $2 billion investment in the state last month.

“We know that coming out of COVID, we can’t take automotive for granted,” Whitmer said. “It has been an incredible strength of this state. We cannot assume that will always be the case. We have to compete.

The state still has some way to go, however, according to the CNBC study.

In the state economy category, Michigan scored a C and in business friendliness, a C+.

To keep up with competition for talent, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation began emphasizing Michigan’s natural assets like the Great Lakes and its four seasons to attract workers.

Making the state a welcoming and desirable place to live is part of the recruiting process, MEDC CEO Quentin Messer Jr. said in a May interview with MLive.

“In a world where talent is highly mobile, you have to give people, especially young people, a value proposition. You have to give them a reason to want to stay, and right now we’re flying under the radar,” he said.

Michigan’s score for life, health, and inclusion was the lowest of any category, at a D+. However, his cost of living score was a saving grace at A-.

Compared to its Midwestern neighbors, Michigan was in the middle of the pack. The state landed just behind Indiana and Ohio and ahead of Illinois and Wisconsin.

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