Forbes names Virginia No. 5 best state for business

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Tuesday that Virginia ranked No. 5 in the Forbes.com 2017 Best States for Business.

Virginia is no stranger to this list, clocking in as one of the top two states every year from 2006 through 2013.

Forbes.com evaluates states based on six criteria, and this year Virginia struggled distinctly in two categories: business costs and economic climate. However, Virginia managed to land among the top three states for both labor supply and regulatory environment.

“The Commonwealth’s advancement in major national rankings like Forbes.com is strong evidence of our success in building the new Virginia economy,” McAuliffe states in a news release. “We are committed to building on this upward trajectory by offering the infrastructure, regulatory environment, and robust workforce to ensure Virginia is the premier business destination in the United States.”

A key component of two of Forbes’ criteria is income. Virginia reported the eighth-highest median household income between 2011 and 2015 of all states — diving into that metric on a local level, however, offers a look at regional economic disparity.

From 2010 to 2015, Frederick and Warren counties reported median incomes in-line with Virginia as a whole, but Shenandoah County’s metrics lagged behind by over $10,000, a gap that continues to grow.

Sharon Baroncelli, executive director of Shenandoah County’s Chamber of Commerce, doesn’t see this gap as a black mark against the county.

“We’ve always known that, in addition to (being) a great place to live, we have a low cost of living here in Shenandoah County and in the valley. That median income reflects that,” Baroncelli said.

Compared to other areas in the state, specifically Northern Virginia, Baroncelli said that Shenandoah County has low taxes, gas prices and groceries. If those prices went up and wages didn’t change, Baroncelli said, then there would be a problem.

The median household income in Shenandoah County did climb $1,470 between 2014 and 2015, the last year for which numbers are available.

“It’s always great to see Virginia stand out as a great place to do business,” Baroncelli said. “It’s not only good business for Virginia, but it’s good business for Shenandoah County.”

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