Commentary

Maine ranks 48th in CNBC’s Top State for Doing Business

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Bad infrastructure and an unreliable power grid. These are among the top reasons CNBC ranked Maine in 48th place for business across the country.

Ahead of only Alaska and Hawaii, Maine is the worst state in the contiguous United States for supporting and conducting business.

Per the article, “The Pine Tree State boasts America’s lowest crime rate. But the infrastructure? You can’t get there from here.”

Virginia was ranked the best, yet scored very poorly in cost of living, coming in 32nd across the nation. 

The article states that Maine has the worst infrastructure of any state in the nation, including the nation’s most unreliable power grid. Per the U.S. Department of Energy, the average Maine energy customer faces more than 15 hours per year without power.

But Maine also received either a “D” or an “F” grade on seven of the 10 categories used by the news outlet to determine its business ranking by state.

Maine failed in infrastructure, workforce, access to capital and technology and innovation. It received a “D+” for the cost of doing business and the economy, and received a “D-” for cost of living.

The highest grade was a “B+” in “Life, Health and Inclusion,” previously deemed “quality of life.” The Pine Tree State also received a “B-” for business friendliness.

Receiving a “C+” for education, the findings reveal the many places Maine still has room to progress.

Expanding school choice, for starters, would likely improve our state’s education score, as it takes into account spending per student and how that impacts student outcomes.

Maine should also turn its focus to meaningfully improving transportation infrastructure, including its roads, to improve its future score. 

In Reason’s 2020 Annual Highway Report, Maine ranked 25th in the nation for highway performance and cost-effectiveness. Across a broad spectrum of measurements, the Pine Tree State’s worst scores were 45th and 47th in structurally deficient bridges and rural arterial pavement condition, respectively. Maine also fared poorly in urbanized area congestion, maintenance disbursements per mile, and urban arterial pavement condition, ranking in the mid-30s on all of the above.

The state’s investment in roads and bridges needs to be more efficient and cost-effective if we want to be a competitive state for businesses.

The category in the CNBC ranking with the greatest weight was the cost of doing business, in which Maine scored a “D+.”

The organization considers the cost of office space, wages, taxes and utilities, among others, in grading the states. For Maine, the cost of business is just one factor of many weighing down the potential for businesses to thrive.

If Maine wants to be a competitive place that attracts new business, we need to reimagine our approach to infrastructure, the cost of doing business and our education system as a whole.

About Nick Linder

Nicholas Linder, of Cincinnati, is a communications Intern for Maine Policy Institute. He is going into his second year of studying finance and public policy analysis at The Ohio State University. On campus, he is involved with Students Consulting for Nonprofit Organizations and Business for Good.

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