Ford Graham Discusses Top U.S. States for Project Development Appeal

September 27, 2022

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W. Ford Graham — a McGuireWoods partner and McGuireWoods Consulting senior vice president of infrastructure and economic development in Columbia, S.C. — wrote an article for the September 2022 issue of Area Development magazine examining the top states in America based on their responsiveness to project development. States that embrace site-readiness initiatives and understand workforce training, he said, are among those considered top states for doing business.

In the article, “2022 Top States Commentary: Responsiveness to Projects Big — and Small — Lands a Core Group of States on Top,” Graham noted that after the dislocation caused by COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, the United States is undergoing the “year of the mega project” from an economic development and site-selection perspective. Leading this trend is the shift to electric vehicles (EV) and the need for battery storage and EV components.

“To be competitive, states and local governments are enhancing their arsenals of incentive dollars as well as updating their programs to better capture changing trends in advanced manufacturing,” Graham wrote. “They are also working desperately to uncover and develop new mega sites to ensure that these scarce locations are ready for prime time.”

Some jurisdictions are less responsive, with some “neglecting their most important business sector of all — existing industry,” he added. “It is no surprise that Georgia continues to be at the top of most of the categories, including Top State for Doing Business for the ninth consecutive year.” He noted that eight of the states in this year’s top nine positions ranked in the top 10 for the past three years.

“In light of the nationwide shortage of labor and the death of available industrial buildings and sites, jurisdictions where programs are not as strong should take a lesson from these best practices,” Graham wrote.