The five best US states for doing business in 2018
With 2018 seeing Amazon announcing two locations for its HQ2 project, settling on Queens in New York and a site in Northern Virginia, and North Carolina currently leading sweepstakes for the site of Apple’s new campus - which will reportedly create 20,000 tech jobs in the next five years - it is an exciting and competitive time fo. State governments and members of the private sector are competing fiercely for a slice of expanding markets. In time for the end of the year, Forbes Magazine has released its rankings of which US states are the best for business.
Business Chief North America takes a look at the five best places in the US for business this year and going forward into 2019. This year’s version of the study “looks at 41 metrics across six main categories: business costs, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life.”
With a population of 1.92mn, Nebraska is the 37th most-populous state in the Union and the smallest in the top 5. Forbes reports that the state “boasts low business costs and a business-friendly regulatory climate. The Cornhusker State's average unemployment rate of 3.2% over the last five years was the second lowest in the country.”
Ranking first in the nation for quality of life and regulatory environment, Virginia is predicted to experience strong growth in the wake of its Amazon headquarters win earlier this year. The HQ2 project is expected to bring 25,000 jobs to the area. Virginia is among the three states to ever place first in the country multiple times (five) on the Forbes list.
“Employment, income and economic forecasts for the Longhorn State all rate among the top four in the nation. The state is also a leader for startup activity and venture capital investment. Texas has been the No. 1 state for corporate relocations and expansions for six straight years”, Forbes reports. The state also ranked first in 2018 for economic growth prospects.
Occupying the Forbes best states to do business list’s top spot six times in seven years, (between 2010 and 2016), Utah is ranked second in labor supply with a population of 3.1mn people, and the state’s employment growth is the highest in the nation over the last five years. According to Forbes, “Utah’s tech prowess was highlighted this month when German tech giant SAP announced a deal to purchase Provo-based cloud unicorn Qualtrics, one of the leaders of the state’s startup and tech community known as Silicon Slopes. Utah tech companies are aided by energy costs 15% below the national average, per Moody’s Analytics.”
1. North Carolina
With a cost of doing business that is 10.1% below the national average, North Carolina maintains its place as the best state in America for business. The state’s 3% corporate tax rate is the lowest in the country. “In addition to low costs, the state boasts a highly educated labor supply fueled by graduates from 53 colleges and universities, including elite schools like Duke University and the University of North Carolina.” Also, job growth is strong and the state’s population is growing at twice the national average. North Carolina cities Charlotte and Garner both secured $200 million Amazon distribution centers this year, Forbes reports. Each of these facilities are expected to generate 1,500 jobs in the next year.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.