What a difference a few years make.
When we launched America’s Top States for Business in 2007 — before the housing market implosion and the financial crisis — our Top States were attracting not only businesses but people: families and home buyers.
Four of our Top Five that year were Southern states: Virginia followed by Texas, Utah, Georgia and North Carolina.
(Watch: Can Texas Stay on Top?)
But while we and everyone else were looking south, oil production in North Dakota’sBakken Shale tripled in 2007. Crude oil was trading at a mere $60 a barrel, though, so not many people noticed. The state finished a mere 13th.
By last year, however, Brent Crude oil was averaging around $111 a barrel, and North Dakota made its first appearance in our Top Five. The move was largely a result of the state’s dizzying economic growth — “bigger than China’s growth rate,” Steven Landefeld, director of the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, told CNBC in an interview. “It’s been oil and gas [in North Dakota].”
Virginia, by contrast, slipped to No. 3 last year — its worst showing ever. And Georgia slipped all the way to ninth place.
Our rankings reflect what experts say has been a gradual change in recent years, with the core of economic expansion moving to the middle of the country.