Maryland vs. Virginia: Which state ranks No. 1 on ‘Best States for Business’ list — and which ranks No. 31?

CNBC’s 2024 rankings of Best States for Business puts Virginia at the top of the list for the third time in five years, and a record sixth time since CNBC began its rankings in 2007.

Virginia edged out last year’s top state of business, North Carolina, in what CNBC called the closest finish ever.

Maryland came in at No. 31.

Each year, CNBC ranks all 50 states on a total of 10 categories of competitiveness. Out of a total of 2,500 possible points, Virginia scored 1,595 this year.

Virginia ranks No. 1 for education. CNBC said the state has a wealth of higher education opportunities, including five historically Black colleges, and state support for higher education has increased 28% over the past five years.

Virginia also scores well for infrastructure, with what CNBC calls a wealth of shovel-ready sites the state offers for companies who want to build fast.

Virginia also scored high for business friendliness, workforce, economy, technology and innovation, and quality of life. It ranked in the middle for the cost of doing business.

The rankings were announced live on-air Thursday morning by CNBC correspondent Scott Cohn, reporting from Virginia Beach.

“With six wins — and three in the last five years — Virginia is our most decorated state. It’s easy to see why,” Cohn said. “In both Republican and Democratic administrations, the state has shown how much it cares about business, and how carefully it can listen to companies. Plus, year after year, Virginia offers the training, talent and the infrastructure for success.”

Rounding out the top five Best States for Business on CNBC’s 2024 list are North Carolina, Texas, Georgia and Florida.

As for Maryland’s finish among the lower half of states in the rankings, CNBC pointed to mostly middling scores for infrastructure and the workforce.

Maryland ranked third worst in the U.S. — 47 out of 50 — in terms of the cost of doing business. However, its quality of life ranking was slightly higher than Virginia’s — 16 compared to 19. And in the area of technology and innovation, Maryland ranked No. 8 nationwide.

Check out CNBC’s full rankings and commentary online.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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