Gov. Pat McCrory, busy introducing key administration members today, probably didn't hear the good news/bad news about North Carolina this morning: Forbes magazine ranked the Tar Heel State the fourth-best in the country to do business, based on factors including business costs, labor supply and growth prospects.
What's the bad news? The ranking doesn't fit with McCrory's narrative that our state's brand is tarnished in the eyes of businesses who might think of locating here. That was a constant theme of the McCrory campaign in 2012, and he summarily dismissed several business rankings that had N.C. in the top 10.
McCrory says businesses are turned off by high taxes and overregulation in North Carolina. Forbes has a different take, ranking our state as second best in Business Costs and third best in Regulatory Environment. How did Forbes reach these numbers? Through legitimate research, not anecdotal gloom and doom.
For the Business Cost rankings, Forbes incorporated Moody's Analytics cost of doing business index, which includes labor, energy and taxes, and factored in the new state tax index from the Tax Foundation that looks at the tax burden on businesses across different industries.
For regulatory environment, Forbes says it looked in part at the regulatory component of the Freedom in the 50 States report from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which "considers labor regulations, health insurance coverage mandates, occupational licensing, the tort system, right-to-work laws and more."
In other words, this wasn't taking a poll of business owners and calling it a day.
We think our new governor has some good ideas about taking an efficiency-minded look at regulations, and like him, we think tax reform for individuals and businesses is long overdue. But McCrory and legislators shouldn't approach each of those tasks with the notion that North Carolina is a terrible place to do business. That's fiction.
Peter St. Onge