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Aw, what does Forbes Inc. know, anyway?

Post by David Seago on Aug. 1, 2008 at 11:45 am with No Comments »
August 1, 2008 11:45 am

The business magazine Forbes Inc. handed Gov. Chris Gregoire a gift-wrapped campaign coup Thursday when it ranked Washington third in its latest annual ranking of "Best States for Business."

The gov’s campaign cheekily took advantage by issuing a "correction" apologizing for a TV campaign ad, based on Forbes’ 2007 rankings, that only claims a fifth-best rating for Washington. The TV ad will be amended, her minions assured us.

But some folks always see the glass as half-empty. The free-market Washington Policy Center countered today with a blog post by Carl Gipson trying to take some of the luster off the new Forbes ranking.

"Here we go again," Gipson complains. He acknowledges that Forbes is "a relatively reliable periodical of everything business and finance." But, Gipson insists, "There’s enough information out there among other reputable sources that should temper the celebratory champagne popping." He continues:

During this political season we are going to hear a lot of talk about where Washington ranks in business friendliness, and people are going to argue over which ranking system takes into account the correct parameters, etc. My worry is that we will get caught up in ranking the rankings, instead of having a civilized discussion about how to improve the business climate regardless of how other, out-of-state media outlets and institutes think we are doing.

But for those of you who are interested in what some of those other institutions and media outlets are saying, here’s a brief rundown. (Go to Gipson’s blog for the links):

- Washington tied for 18th by CNBC

– Washington ranked 38th in Economic Freedom in North America by the Frasier Institute

– Washington ranked 31st in Economic Outlook Rank by ALEC

– Washington ranked 11th in 2008 State Business Tax Climate Index by the Tax Foundation

– Washington ranked 4th in Small Business Survival Index 2007 by the SBE Council

– Washington ranked 15th in highest cost of doing business by the Milken Institute

– Washington ranked 7th by the Beacon Hill Institute

Here are the rankings Gregoire’s campaign likes to tout:

Now Washington state has been ranked:

&bull Third best state to do business – Forbes (

&bull Fourth best state for starting a business – Fortune Small Business (

&bull Top three best managed states – Pew Institute (

Third greenest in "America’s Greenest States" – Forbes (

Bottom line: The governor doesn’t really have much to do with the relatively healthy condition of the state’s economy. For that, more credit is due to Boeing and Microsoft, the University of Washington’s powerful research machine, the ports of Tacoma and Seattle, the state’s strong agricultural sector and the natural blessings that make Washington a nice place to live.

Washington’s regulatory climate for business isn’t onerous. But Republicans and business allies always want less regulation, and Democrats and their labor friends always favor more.

Virginia and Utah, by the way, were the states rated first and second by Forbes.

Taking notice
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