Florida Secures Second Place as Best State for Business, Despite Challenges
Florida has once again secured its position as the second-best state for business, trailing only Texas, according to the 2023 Chief Executive Best and Worst States for Business report. The report has consistently ranked Texas first since its inception in 2021.
The Sunshine State earned its second-place ranking for the second consecutive year, thanks to its low taxes and strong stance against pandemic-driven business closures. The report questioned whether Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s high-profile dispute with Walt Disney Co. would deter CEOs from choosing Florida as a location for their companies. However, it appears the conflict has not impacted the state’s appeal.
Last year, the Florida legislature passed a bill revoking Disney’s self-governing and special tax status, which most companies in the state do not enjoy. This year, state lawmakers filed HB 1069 to further limit public school classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation. Despite the controversies, Disney’s lawsuit against the state over the loss of its self-governing status is viewed as politically motivated and likely to fail.
Governor DeSantis’s “open for business” policies, which have been popular among business owners, have helped Florida maintain its second-place ranking. The report highlights how the governor’s policies have spurred migration to the state from relatively locked-down locations like New York.
DeSantis has actively promoted Florida’s strong economy and pro-business environment as key drivers for residents and businesses relocating to the state. He recently addressed Japanese business leaders in Tokyo, emphasizing Florida’s status as the fastest-growing state in the U.S. and the top state for net in-migration since he took office.
Despite Hurricane Ian’s devastating impact in September 2022, Florida’s economy remains robust. The state ended the fiscal year with a record $20 billion in state reserves, and private sector employment growth was double the national average. Financial and tech companies are flocking to cities like Tampa and Orlando, while the Space Coast continues to attract leading aerospace firms.
The report also highlights Florida’s attractive tax credit and grant programs for CEOs, including the Capital Investment Tax Credit, the Urban Job Tax Credit Program, and the Research and Development Tax Credit. These incentives further solidify Florida’s reputation as a pro-business state, and with its $1.23 trillion economy, it would rank as the 13th largest economy in the world if it were its own country.