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The economy is looking up for entrepreneurs in 2017. Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index has remained steadily positive since last November, finishing the third week of March 11 points up to mark the 18th straight week of positive performance, the longest stretch since Gallup started daily tracking in 2008. January and February saw 200,000 new jobs added to the economy as the stock market performed well. The majority of small business owners have an optimistic outlook for the first time in two years, the Wall Street Journal reported in March. As the economy improves, the outlook is especially optimistic in some parts of the country. Here’s a look at the top five states for business owners in 2017.


Each year Forbes ranks the best states for doing business, and during the most recent ranking, Utah won the number-one spot. The Beehive State has topped Forbes’ list for six of the last seven years, winning high marks for its regulatory climate, job growth and fiscally sound government. Utah has the top economic outlook in the country and the fourth-most diverse economy. The state enjoys excellent access to business resources and talent hiring pools due to its thriving tech industry, supported by the Utah Business Resource Centers Act, which mandates one-stop Business Resources Centers at Utah institutions of higher education. Lendio ranks Utah as the third-best state for small business lending, and Utah’s business-friendly government features the ninth-best business tax climate in the United States. However, Utah only ranks 22nd in the country in crime, so if you do business there, you may want to use security cameras to protect your premises.

North Carolina

Forbes ranked North Carolina as the second-best place to do business, making the Tar Heel State the only state to make Forbes’ top five every year. North Carolina hosts a thriving high-tech industry fueled by foreign direct investment, which generated $2.7 billion in revenue and 5,300 jobs in 2015. North Carolina has a highly-educated labor pool with the second least-unionized workforce, making its labor costs 11 percent below the national average and giving employers excellent access to human resources. North Carolina hosts the headquarters of First-Citizens Bank, one of the leading banks that devotes a significant portion of loans to small businesses, so consider applying for a loan there. The state ranks eleventh in the nation for its business tax climate, reflecting a business-friendly government regulatory atmosphere. North Carolina only ranks 35th in crime, so be sure to take appropriate security measures if you do business there.


Nebraska came in third on Forbes’ list, ranking high because of its fiscal health and legal climate. The Cornhusker State ranks high in the nation for jobs in the science, technology, engineering and math sectors, making it a good home for businesses in science and technology. The state provides resources for new businesses through its Nebraska Advantage economic incentive program, which has helped nurture manufacturing, telecommunications and biomedical companies. With the second-lowest unemployment rate in the nation, Nebraska hosts a highly-skilled, in-demand workforce. The state’s tax policies rank 25th in the nation, while the crime rate ranks 21st in the country.


The Lone Star State ranked fourth on Forbes’ list, while coming in at number one on other lists, such as that put together by Chief Executive Magazine. With a long history of supporting high-tech companies in industries ranging from energy to aerospace to computers, Texas hosts one of the five best-quality workforces in the country, providing excellent resources for business, especially tech start-ups. The state ranks sixth in the nation for small business lending and 14th for tax climate. Texas ranks 40th in the country in crime, making security a priority for companies doing business there.


The Centennial State rounded out Forbes’ top five best places to do business. With strong agricultural, manufacturing and mining industries, Colorado has a high percentage of STEM jobs and boasts the best labor supply in the nation, attracting young and educated workers, which makes it a great place for high-tech start-ups. The state ranks eighth in the nation in access to capital, while ranking ninth in small business lending. Colorado comes in 16th in the country for tax friendliness, while coming in 24th for crime.
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