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NH ranking for cost of doing business dips to 32

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 25. 2014 9:19PM

A worse ranking for the “cost of doing business” in New Hampshire helped drop the state to a tie for 30th overall in the annual CNBC ranking of “America’s top states for businesses.”

The Granite State ranked 27th last year and 19th in 2012.

“Quality of life and education is rock solid in the Granite State, although the cost of living is high,” the CNBC website said. “A much needed improvement: the state’s infrastructure.”

The cable television business channel said it used publicly available data to score 56 measures of competitiveness in 10 broader categories.

New Hampshire fared the best, at Number 3, for “quality of life” and finished the worst, at Number 48, for “infrastructure & transportation.” The state scored worse this year in six of the 10 categories, improved in three and tied in “business friendliness.”

New Hampshire’s “cost of doing business” ranked 32nd worst this year compared to 18th last year.

CNBC said that category included state and local tax burden, including individual income and property taxes, as well as business taxes and gasoline taxes. Costs for utilities, wages and renting business space also were factors.

“It’s really sort of time for a conversation about New Hampshire’s economic future that looks at a lot of these issues,” said Dennis Delay, an economist with the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies in Concord.

Delay said the state doesn’t have a sales or income tax, but its corporate marginal tax rate is “among the highest in the country.” He said many Northeast states also pay high energy prices.

New Hampshire went from 45th to 48th worst in “infrastructure & transportation.” That category included the value of goods shipped by air, waterways, roads and rail as well as the availability of air travel, the quality of the roads and bridges, commuting times and the supply of safe drinking water.

Lorna Colquhoun, communications director for the state Division of Economic Development, said the state “still held steady with quality of life and business friendliness.”The Granite State ranked 13th both years for “business friendliness” and improved on “quality of life” from ninth to third.

She said New Hampshire fared the second best in New England, trailing only Massachusetts, which finished 25th. Vermont was 42nd, Maine 45th, Connecticut 46th and Rhode Island 50th. Georgia captured the top slot.

Former House Speaker and current Rep. Bill O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, said the state’s rankings improved when Republicans were in charge a few years ago.

“Unfortunately, the current Democrat majority and their overspending and anti-business efforts have undermined our successes and caused New Hampshire to fall” in the rankings, O’Brien said.

Julie McClain, communications director for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, blamed O’Brien and the Republicans in the Legislature who “made radical cuts to infrastructure and education funding, which are critical to the success of our businesses.

“While Granite Staters are still feeling the pain of those disastrous cuts, (Democratic Gov.) Maggie Hassan has worked to broker bipartisan deals to freeze in-state tuition at our state university system and invest in our roads and bridges — including finishing the completion of I-93,” she said.


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