Amazon’s search for a home for its second headquarters, or HQ2, had 238 cities across the United States and Canada competing for the planned $5 billion construction project and 50,000 high-paying jobs. The 14 month-long evaluation process ended in November 2018 with a decision to split HQ2 between Arlington County, Virginia, and Queens, New York. These locations were chosen for their transportation infrastructure, access to talent, high quality of life, and billions of dollars in tax incentives.
Competition for Amazon’s HQ2 demonstrates just how important a healthy business environment can be to any economy — and some states are better equipped to help businesses succeed than others.
24/7 Wall St. created an index of 46 measures across eight categories including innovation, business costs, and regulation to identify the best and worst states for business. Much like the cities Amazon chose, the best states for business tend to be those with well-educated populations, a high quality of life, healthy economies, reliable infrastructure, and pro-business laws and policies.
Business interests, however, do not always align with other important considerations. For example, states with anti-union laws give companies more power, but workers’ wages can suffer as a result. Additionally, corporate tax breaks may spur job growth, but individual taxpayers are often left to pick up the tab.
Striking the right balance between being pro-business and working for the welfare of all residents is not easy, and missing the mark can have consequences. Outrage in New York over the $3 billion in tax breaks Amazon was projected to receive from the city and state led the company to scrap plans for its Queens HQ2 earlier this month.