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Opinion | CNBC study bears no resemblance to the Alabama we know

Its conclusions are the diametric opposite of more factual, professional, and impartial analyses.

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Local and national media outlets have recently given much attention to a new “study” by the CNBC network that used questionable methodology and cherrypicked categories to misleadingly rank Alabama as one of the worst places to live and work.

The CNBC report titled “America’s Top States for Business,” which placed Alabama fourth from the bottom among the 50 states, draws a picture of our home that is wholly unfamiliar to those of us who live, work, study, and raise families here, and its conclusions are the diametric opposite of more factual, professional, and impartial analyses.

Consider the following:

In contrast to CNBC, Area Development magazine, one of the nation’s top economic development publications, ranked Alabama number six on its annual “Top States for Doing Business” analysis and awarded high ratings in categories that included Workforce Development Programs, Overall Cost of Doing Business, and Speed of Project Permitting.  

While other states’ economies were struggling in the post-pandemic period, Moody’s ranked Alabama’s economy the fifth best in the nation.

Site Selection magazine’s review of state workforce development programs named Alabama’s the best in the south.

Alabama’s current 2.2 percent unemployment rate is the lowest in our history and the sixth lowest of any state in the nation.

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USA Today ranked Alabama the third best state in the nation for retirees because of our affordable cost-of-living and homeownership costs. Kiplinger’s placed Alabama as its sixth best state.

For the third year in a row, U.S. News and World Report scored Huntsville among the top three “best places to live in the United States.”

Companies like Mercedes, Toyota/Mazda, Polaris, Novelis, Hyundai, Honda, Airbus, and Boeing all call Alabama home. These are just a few of the dozens upon dozens of new and expanding industries that have planted firm roots in Alabama because of our trained and qualified workforce, business-friendly policies, and affordability.

For 15 years, Alabama has claimed gold and silver “Shovel Awards” for leading the nation in economic development, and the corridors, cabinets, and closets of our state’s Department of Commerce are overflowing with similar industrial recruitment honors.

Because the Alabama Legislature used its 2023 regular session to renew, refresh, and revise the package of economic incentives and tax abatements that we offer to businesses looking to locate here, our already attractive state has become even more enticing to prospects.

But it is not just large corporations and headline-inducing mega projects that are benefiting from Alabama’s pro-business policies. Small businesses ranging from retail storefronts to professional service providers are opening, growing, and expanding, and their owners are also enjoying the sweet taste of success.

Looking beyond Alabama’s ranking, let us take a moment to consider where some other competing states fell on the list.

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California, with its high taxes, high crime, and decidedly anti-business policies landed 21 spots higher than Alabama on the CNBC list even though hundreds of major corporate and company headquarters have been forced to move from the “Golden State” to more welcoming abodes since 2018.

New York, which, according to statistics, has the highest tax burden in the nation, the highest union membership, and the second most regulations behind California, ranked 26 spots higher than Alabama.

Similarly, the CNBC study factored issues that have nothing to do with our economy or business climate – such as the legislature’s conservative positions on abortion and voter ID requirements – into its scoring, which lowered the state’s ranking simply because they are at odds with the political beliefs of those who compiled the report.

Anyone with an impartial eye and even a bit of common sense can examine the compelling evidence and determine that the CNBC report is both incredibly biased and fatally flawed.

Fortunately, the site selectors and economic developers that advise companies where to locate will not be swayed by CNBC’s narrative, and our state’s economy will remain among the best in the nation as businesses of all sizes continue growing for the foreseeable future.

But when Alabama’s economic achievements are overlooked and we are portrayed on a global stage as something we are not, it is our duty to call out the lie and write our own story, revealing the truth as we know it.

Helena Duncan is BCA president and CEO. She has a long history in business with over 30 years of combined experience in the financial and association industries. Her focus since taking control of BCA has been on building and improving Alabama’s business environment while strengthening BCA’s advocacy efforts in Montgomery and Washington, DC.

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