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Go West: N.D., Utah, Texas top list of business leaders

June 18, 2012
The Washington Times
By: Gracy Howard

North Dakota, Utah, and Texas will likely be the nation's economic leaders in the next decade, according to a report just released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The economic study tracks the success of various economic policies at the state level by analyzing factors such as growth, exports, entrepreneurship, regulation, talent and infrastructure.

The top 10 states also included Virginia, Wyoming, Washington, Maryland, Colorado, South Dakota, and Massachusetts.

“I’m not going to say ‘the private sector’s doing fine,’ ” quipped Joel Kotkin, professor of urban development at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. “But when you travel around you do see how strong the states really are.”

Mr. Kotkin and Delore Zimmerman, president and chief executive officer of Praxis Strategy Group in Grand Forks, N.D., introduced the study Wednesday at a Chamber of Commerce gathering in Washington, D.C. They noted that the top states have shown growth in exports and energy and increases in math, science and technology jobs.

Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue said states that foster strong business environments are “bucking” employment difficulties. Where government has failed, he said, “business has a plan.”

“If you’re looking for doom and gloom from me, you won’t find it,” Mr. Donohue said — although he did bemoan the government’s “Byzantine tax code” that “squelches innovation.”

Mr. Donohue emphasized the need for drawing “world-class talent” from other countries, through American universities and job opportunities.

“We must attract the world’s best and brightest,” he said. “We should be stapling a visa and green card to their diplomas.”

The chamber hopes its latest study will serve as a tool to inspire and challenge states, giving them concrete models to help model new initiatives.

“We’re in a global race, and we’re up against rising competitors. … We are competing for the world’s talent, for its customers and capital,” Mr. Donohue said. “We can never afford to rest on our advantages.”

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