State ranks high in CEO poll

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 at 1:00am

A survey of the nation's CEOs ranked Tennessee as one of the most attractive places to do business. The state was picked No. 7 in the poll, performed in December by Chief Executive Magazine. In the same survey of chief executives, confidence levels for the economy jumped significantly.

Top business executives were asked to pick states they perceived as the most attractive considering taxation, regulation, labor laws, litigation, education, and other important factors. States in the southeast and west (not far west) fared the best. Texas and Nevada were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. New York and California ranked last at No.50 and No.51.

"We started looking at the states after New York started their regulatory crackdown," said William J. Holstein, editor in chief of Chief Executive Magazine. "The states that are doing well are the ones that have created a positive business environment, such as Tennessee. The ones doing poorly are providing a negative business climate."

Chief executives spoke out resoundingly in favor of the re-election of President Bush, which is one of the main reasons for their increased confidence.

The survey showed that the leading-economic-confidence indicator level jumped by 9.5 points in December. Current CEO confidence level jumped 12.3 points and future confidence increased by 7.7 points.

What this means is that the top business executives are the people that make the decisions on future hiring and capital investment, and they are bullish, according to Holstein.

Expect to see more job creation and overall business activity.

But even though the levels of confidence have increased, Holstein cautions that business executives have some major concerns that must be dealt with by politicians.

They want the government to work on the issues of tort reform, health care, destabilization of the Middle East, globalization, and trade.

On the other hand, with those problems being worked on by the politicians, Holstein is confident that the innovation and flexibility of American businesses and employees should lead to a bright future.

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