Texas is open for business, according to a new report from CNBC evaluating the economic climate of each state in the nation.
Researchers scored each of the 50 states on 60 metrics, which were developed with help from business, policy, and government experts. Those metrics informed 10 categories, like workforce, business friendliness, cost of living, infrastructure, and access to capital. Texas’ booming economy, educated and productive workforce, and transportation infrastructure buoyed the Lone Star State to the top of the list.
The study relies on similar criteria to Amazon’s as the company narrows the field of 20 cities contending for HQ2 to one in the next six months. With two cities in the running for Amazon HQ2, Texas’ top marks feel prescient. Dallas and Austin are both finalists for Amazon HQ2. Texas narrowly beat Amazon’s home state, Washington, which topped last year’s ranking from CNBC.
The request for proposals that Amazon issued last year — when the company announced plans to build a $5 billion second headquarters in another North American city — includes a preference for several of the factors that earned Texas the top spot on CNBC’s ranking. Amazon will prioritize locations with “a stable and business-friendly environment.” The company is looking for a city with a robust transportation infrastructure and perhaps most importantly, Amazon wants a large talent pool to tap.
That last priority could be a blessing or curse for the Texas cities trying to lure Amazon. Although Texas ranks high in the workforce category at No. 7, the state’s overall education infrastructure is underwhelming at best. With some of the lowest test scores in the nation and disappointing high school diploma attainment, Texas finished No. 37 for education on the CNBC list.
That could be a concern for Amazon for two reasons. Young families might be dissuaded from locating in Texas because of the poor school system and the next generation of workers may not be prepared for the technical jobs Amazon needs filled.
But there are a few other factors that could boost Texas’ chances. Whole Foods, which Amazon acquired last year for $13.7 billion, is headquartered in Austin. Like Washington, the state also has no income tax. That is reportedly one of the reasons Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos founded the company in Seattle.
Washington earned second place on the 2018 rankings, bolstered by its talented workforce, growing economy, and quality of life. See the full ranking of all 50 states here.