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Perception gap

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is riding high in the public opinion polls. In the latest Siena Research Institute survey, three-quarters of Democrats and nearly two-thirds of Republicans gave him a thumbs up.
 
The Business Council of New York State Inc., meanwhile, lauded the progress made during the recently completed legislative session. It gave a nod to the governor and lawmakers for "a second consecutive on-time budget with controlled spending, no new taxes and important investments in job creation and critical infrastructure (that) send a strong message to the state’s business community and the rest of the nation that New York is moving in a direction that will lead to a better economy and an improved outlook for all New Yorkers."
 
Perception, however, often is a difficult thing to change. That fact was underscored this week when CNBC released its annual ranking of the top states for business. New York placed 34th-down from 26th a year ago and 21st in 2007, the year the list debuted.
 
CNBC rates the states in 10 categories spanning more than 50 metrics. New York led all states in two categories-education and technology and innovation. And it placed fifth in access to capital.
 
But compared with a year ago the Empire State dropped from 14th to 39th in infrastructure and transportation and nosedived in business friendliness, plunging from 36th all the way to dead last. And as before, it was nearly last in cost of doing business and cost of living.
 
Many New Yorkers say the state’s quality of life mitigates its high costs, but CNBC rated it 28th in that category versus seventh in the initial ranking six years ago.
 
The CNBC report is short on details explaining how it arrived at each state’s rankings, so it is almost impossible to know why its researchers think the "business friendliness" of New York’s legal and regulatory frameworks has deteriorated so dramatically over the last 12 months. But whether or not they are based on facts, perceptions matter.

According to CNBC, this year’s top five states for business, in order, are: Texas, Utah, Virginia, North Carolina and North Dakota. New York probably doesn’t need to fear that many of its businesses will pack up and move to Fargo. But if CNBC’s view of this state is commonly held, getting employers to move here will continue to be a hard sell.

7/13/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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