Texas has been known for ages as a business-friendly state, but one recent report suggests it might be falling from grace. Photo via Getty Images

It’s a tale of two views of Texas’ business-friendly reputation. For the first time ever, the Lone Star State has fallen out of the top five in CNBC’s annual ranking of the best states to do business. Meanwhile, Texas tops Business Facilities’ new ranking of the best state business climates.

On July 11, CNBC released the 2023 edition of its ranking of the top states for doing business. The ranking puts Texas at No. 6, leaving the Lone Star State out of the top five for the first time since CNBC launched its study in 2007. Texas appeared at No. 5 in 2022 and No. 4 in 2021. The state finished first in 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2018.

For the second consecutive year, North Carolina leads the CNBC ranking, thus “solidifying its position as an economic powerhouse,” according to the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

Despite dropping out of the top five, CNBC acknowledges that Texas remains an economic powerhouse.

Texas grabs CNBC’s No. 2 spot, behind Florida, for the best state economy. And the state witnessed year-over-year job growth of four percent through May, the highest rate of any state. Furthermore, Texas ties with California for access to capital, the study says, and snags the No. 2 spot in the workforce category.

Texas’ fall this year includes a slide from No. 15 to No. 24 in the infrastructure category. CNBC mentions the 2021 wintertime collapse of the state’s electric grid in its explanation of the nine-spot drop.

Other knocks against Texas:

  • A decline from No. 21 to No. 35 in the education category.
  • A dip from No. 12 to No. 16 in the cost-of-doing-business category.
  • A plunge from No. 14 to No. 22 for cost of living.
  • A bottom-of-the-barrel ranking in the life, health, and inclusion category, down from No. 49 last year.

In an email to CNBC, an unnamed spokesman for Gov. Greg Abbott shrugged off this year’s sixth-place showing.

“People and businesses vote with their feet, and continually they are choosing to move to Texas more than any other state in the country,” the spokesman wrote.

The spokesman cited the state’s national lead in job creation, attracting more than 280 new corporate headquarters since 2015, and its status as a perennial front-runner in economic development projects.

“Texas remains number one because people and businesses are choosing our state over any other for the unmatched competitive advantages we offer: no corporate or personal income taxes, a predictable regulatory climate, and a young, skilled, diverse, and growing workforce,” the spokesman wrote.

While Texas didn’t fare as well in this year’s CNBC study, it can brag about its 2023 designation as Business Facilities magazine’s state with the best business climate. In second place: North Carolina.

“The strength and sustained momentum of the Texas economy made the state a clear choice for [No. 1] in this year’s rankings,” Anne Cosgrove, editorial director of Business Facilities, says in a June 26 statement. “Taking the top spot this year is based not only on the impressive capital investment and job creation numbers, but also for diversity of industries, robust infrastructure, and a business-friendly regulatory and tax climate.”

Abbott took the opportunity to publicize the No. 1 ranking from Business Facilities.

“When businesses succeed, so do Texans — and our business climate ensures that Texas continues to offer world-class educational opportunities, good-paying careers to support families, and endless possibilities to prosper,” Abbott says in a news release.

CNBC’s ranking doesn't think too kindly of Texas. Photo via Getty Images

Texas named No. 2 worst state to live, but one of the best for business

mixed messages

It’s a tale of two states. A new study from CNBC ranks Texas as the fifth best state for doing business. But CNBC simultaneously puts Texas in second place among the worst states to live.

Texas rates poorly for life, health, and inclusion, CNBC says. In fact, the Lone Star state holds the No. 49 spot in that category. Texas’ weaknesses include childcare, health resources, inclusiveness, and voting rights, according to CNBC.

Skilled workers continue to flock to Texas despite lingering quality-of-life issues, CNBC says.

“But when they arrive, they are finding limited childcare options, a stressed health care system with the highest rate of uninsured, new curbs on voting rights, and few protections against discrimination,” CNBC says.

Only Arizona fared worse on CNBC’s list of the worst states to live.

In 2021, Texas wound up at No. 31 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best states. Texas’ highest rankings came in the economy (No. 9) and fiscal stability (No. 10) categories. But it notched rankings below 30 in five other categories: healthcare (No. 31), education (No. 34), crime and corrections (No. 37), opportunity (No. 39), and natural environment (No. 40).

Louisiana came in last place on U.S. News’ list of the best states.

Despite its poor showing in the CNBC study as a place to live, Texas claims the No. 5 spot in the cable news network’s study of the best states for doing business. It ranks especially high for its workforce (No. 2), technology and innovation (No. 4), and economy (No. 8). In CNBC’s 2021 study, Texas landed at No. 4 among the best states for doing business.

This year, North Carolina grabs the CNBC crown as the best state for business, up from second place in 2021.

In an interview last year with CNBC, Gov. Greg Abbott emphasized Texas’ growing stature as a business magnet.

“We continue to see a massive influx of these employers coming to the state of Texas because, candidly, not only do they like the business environment, but … there’s a lot of businesses and a lot of Americans who like the social positions that the state of Texas is taking,” said Abbott, referring to recent legislative restrictions on abortion and voting rights.

Abbott went on to note that Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, decided in late 2021 to shift the headquarters of the automaker from “very liberal” California to Texas.

“People vote with their feet,” the governor said, “and this [wave of socially conservative legislation] is not slowing down businesses coming to the state of Texas at all. In fact, it is accelerating the process of businesses coming to Texas.”

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

How's startup life in Texas? Well, it's the best in the nation, according to a new ranking. Photo via Getty Images

Report: Texas ranks as the best state to start a business

lone star startups

If you're a Texan looking to launch a startup, you appear to be in the right place.

Personal finance website WalletHub puts Texas at No. 1 in its new ranking of the best and worst states for starting a business. Across the 50 states, WalletHub compared 28 key indicators of startup success to come up with the list.

In the general bucket for "business environment," Texas ranked second. It dropped to 12th in the "access to resources" category and 32nd in the "business costs" category. Digging deeper, Texas appears at No. 4 for the average length of the workweek, No. 5 for the highest total spending on incentives as a percentage of GDP, and No. 6 for average growth in number of small businesses. However, Texas scored a below-average 29th-place ranking for labor costs.

"Choosing the right state for a business is … crucial to its success," WalletHub explains. "A state that provides the ideal conditions for business creation — access to cash, skilled workers, and affordable office space, for instance — can help new ventures not only take off but also thrive."

The WalletHub accolade follows a handful of other recent plaudits for Texas' business-friendly environment.

In March, Site Selection magazine awarded its Governor's Cup to Texas. The Governor's Cup honors the top states for job creation and capital investment.

"Despite the challenges faced from the COVID-19 pandemic, we've seen what Texas can achieve when we foster an environment that empowers people to succeed," Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement about the Governor's Cup win. "The Texas model continues to inspire entrepreneurs and innovators and attract job creators from across the country, and I look forward to spurring more job growth and opportunity for all Texans in every corner of our great state."

A month later, Chief Executive magazine crowned Texas the best state for business for the 17th consecutive year.

But Texas ranked fourth in CNBC's recent rundown of the top states for business in 2021. "A fourth-place finish would be good for most states, but not Texas. This year's finish ties for the worst-ever for the four-time Top State, which last won in 2018," CNBC says.

CNBC says Texas finished fourth based on the strength of its workforce and economy.

"But Texas was hurt this year by policies that run counter to the study's increased focus on inclusiveness," adds CNBC, pointing out that Abbott is pressing ahead with these policies during the current special session of the Texas Legislature.

Abbott's agenda for the special session includes legislation that critics view as watering down voting rights, attacking public school education about racism, and punishing transgender competitors in school sports. Supporters say these measures would preserve election integrity, strip critical race theory from public education in Texas, and protect females participating in school sports whose gender identity aligns with their birth gender.

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Report: Houston secures spot on list of top 50 startup cities

by the numbers

A new ranking signals great promise for the growth of Houston’s startup network.

Houston ranks among the world’s top 50 startup cities on a new list from PitchBook, a provider of data and research about capital markets. In fact, Houston comes in at No. 50 in the ranking. But if you dig deeper into the data, Houston comes out on top in one key category.

The city earns a growth score of 63.8 out of 100 — the highest growth score of any U.S. city and the seventh highest growth score in the world. In the growth bucket, Houston sits between between Paris (64.4) and Washington, D.C. (61.7).

The PitchBook growth score reflects short-term, midterm, and long-term growth momentum for activity surrounding venture capital deals, exits, and fundraising for the past six years.

PitchBook’s highest growth score (86.5) goes to Hefei, a Chinese manufacturing hub for electric vehicles, solar panels, liquid crystal displays, home appliances, and Lenovo computers.

The overall ranking is based on a scoring system that relies on proprietary PitchBook data about private companies. The system’s growth and development scores are based on data related to deals, exits, fundraising and other factors.

Houston earns a development score of 34.1 out of 100, which puts it in 50th place globally in that regard. This score measures the size and maturity of a city’s startup network.

Topping the overall list is San Francisco, followed by New York City and Beijing. Elsewhere in Texas, Austin appears at No. 16 and Dallas at No. 36.

The ranking “helps founders, operators, and investors assess locations when deciding where to expand or invest,” says PitchBook.

“Network effects matter in venture capital: Investors get more than half of their deals through referrals, according to research led by Harvard professor Paul Gompers,” PitchBook goes on to say. “So it stands to reason that dealmakers should seek these networks out when deciding where to do business.”

4 Houston universities earn top spots for graduate programs in Texas

top schools

Houston's top-tier universities have done it again. U.S. News and World Report has four Houston-area universities among the best grad schools in the state, with some departments landing among the top 100 in the country.

U.S. News publishes its annual national "Best Graduate Schools" rankings, which look at several programs including business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, and many others. For the 2024 report, the publication decided to withhold its rankings for engineering and medical schools. It also changed the methodology for ranking business schools by adding a new "salary indicator" based on a graduate's profession.

U.S. News also added new rankings for doctoral and master's programs in several medical fields for the first time in four years, or even longer in some cases. New specialty program rankings include audiology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, pharmacy, nurse midwifery, speech-language pathology, nurse anesthesia, and social work.

"Depending on the job or field, earning a graduate degree may lead to higher earnings, career advancement and specialized skill development," wrote Sarah Wood, a U.S. News Education reporter. "But with several types of degrees and hundreds of graduate schools, it can be difficult to narrow down the options."

Without further ado, here's how the local schools ranked:

Rice University's Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business maintained its position as No. 2 in Texas, but slipped from its former No. 24 spot in the 2023 report to No. 29 overall in the nation in 2024. Its entrepreneurship program tied for No. 8 in the U.S, while its part-time MBA program ranked No. 15 overall.

Houston's University of Texas Health Science Centerearned the No. 3 spots in Texas for its masters and doctorate nursing programs, with the programs earning the No. 31 and No. 45 spots overall in the nation. The school ranked No. 25 nationally in the ranking of Best Public Health schools, and No. 36 for its nursing-anesthesia program.

Prairie View A&M University's Northwest Houston Center ranked No. 5 in Texas and No. 117 in the nation for its master's nursing program. Its Doctor of Nursing Practice program ranked No. 8 statewide, and No. 139 nationally.

The University of Houstonmoved up one spot to claim No. 4 spot in Texas for its graduate education program, and improved by seven spots to claim No. 63 nationally. Its graduate business school also performed better than last year to claim No. 56 in the nation, according to the report. The University of Houston Law Center is the fifth best in Texas, and 68th best in the U.S. Most notably, its health care law program earned top nods for being the seventh best in the country.

Among the new specialty program rankings, UH's pharmacy school ranked No. 41 nationally, while the speech-language pathology program earned No. 44 overall. The graduate social work and public affairs programs ranked No. 67 and No. 76, respectively, in the nation.

The full list of best graduate schools can be found on usnews.com.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Op-Ed: Removing barriers is critical for the future of Houston's health care workforce

guest column

Houston houses one of the most renowned medical communities in the world. However, Texas' current health care workforce shortage has severely impacted the city, with large swaths of the Gulf Coast Region deemed medically underserved. Thousands of Houstonians are impacted year after year due to the lack of access to life-saving medical care.

The obvious solution to this problem is to form a pipeline of health care workers by equipping students with the necessary skills and education to fill this gap. Sadly, many individuals who lack opportunity yet aspire to pursue a career in the health care industry face barriers related to childcare, transportation, mentorship gaps and life's unexpected circumstances.

Dwyer Workforce Development (DWD), a national health care training nonprofit, has recently expanded its footprint to Texas and has joined Houston Community College (HCC), one of the largest community colleges in the country, to provide life-changing support and create a pipeline of new health care workers, many who come from underserved areas.

Last year, our organizations launched the Dwyer Scholar Apprenticeship program, which is actively enrolling to combat the health care shortage and bring opportunities to those lacking. Working together, we are supporting apprentices each year to earn their Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) certificates, where students can choose a Phlebotomy or EKG specialization, helping our city meet the demand for one of the most essential and in-demand jobs in health care each year. Our program will help address Texas' loss of 36 percent of its CNAs over the past decade while providing gateways for highly motivated students—Dwyer Scholars—to thrive in long-term health care careers.

We know financial barriers prevent many potential health care workers from obtaining the certifications needed to enter the workforce. That's why we are bringing our innovative programs together, enabling Scholars to earn while they learn and opening doors for those who do not have the financial luxury of completing their training in a traditional educational atmosphere.

After enrollment, DWD continues to provide case management and additional financial support for pressures like housing, childcare, and transportation so Scholars don't have to put their work before their education. Scholars are placed with employers during the program, where they complete their apprenticeships and begin full-time employment following graduation.

The Texas Workforce Commission has identified apprenticeship programs as a key area for expansion to meet employer demand for skilled workers. Through our partnership, we are doing just that – and the model is proven. More than 85 percent of DWD Scholars in Maryland, where the program was established, have earned their certificates and are now employed or on track to begin their careers.

Our work doesn't end here. Over the next decade, Texas will face a shortage of 57,000 skilled nurses. Texas must continue to expand awareness and access to key workforce training programs to improve outcomes for diverse needs. Our organizations are working to vastly expand our reach, making the unattainable attainable and helping to improve the lives and health of our community.

No one's past or present should dictate their future. Everyone deserves access to health care, the ability to further their education and the chance to set and achieve life goals. The opportunities to reach and empower underserved populations to participate in the health care workforce are limitless.

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Barb Clapp is CEO of Dwyer Workforce Development, a nonprofit that supports individuals who aspire to pursue a career in the health care industry. Christina Robinson is the executive director for work-based learning and industry partnerships at Houston Community College.