Top 5 states for business

1. Virginia

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters/File
A brand new Fiat 500 goes past a 1971 Fiat 500 at a new Fiat dealership in Alexandria, Va., June 3, 2011. CNBC ranked Virginia as America's top state for business in 2011, saying it scored higher than any state ever in the five years it has been ranking states. Virginia ranked second in business friendliness.

The Old Dominion State returns as America’s top state for business in 2011, and we’re starting to detect a pattern here. Virginia topped CNBC's inaugural study in 2007 with Texas at No. 2. In 2008, they switched positions and Texas took the title. In 2009 , it was Virginia/Texas. In 2010, Texas/Virginia. This year, Virginia powers back to the top spot with the best overall score in the history of the study – 1,660 out of 2,500 points.
Virginia is a perennial favorite with its strategic location, friendly business climate and diverse economy. It moved back on top this year thanks to marked improvements in a couple of key areas. Virginia’s tax burden improved considerably, helping the state move up five places to number 21 in the all-important cost of doing business category. In education, Virginia jumped seven points to rank sixth, reflecting an effort begun in 2009 to reduce class sizes.
But not all is rosy in Virginia. The state fell eight spots to number 26 in quality of life, which, among other things, measures health care. The number of uninsured residents in Virginia has risen steadily in recent years. Virginia lost some ground in the workforce category as well, dropping three places toNo. 12. But that was mainly because an improving unemployment rate is shrinking the pool of available workers.
Still, Virginia did what it does best – and has done in each year of our study: It turned in a solid all-around performance, with Top 10 finishes in five categories (infrastructure and transportation at No. 10, economy at No. 8, the aforementioned sixth place in education, second in business friendliness, and 10th in access to capital).

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