In a classic television commercial from the 1990s, former tennis star Andre Agassi proclaimed "Image is everything."
While we wouldn't necessarily agree with the statement for every applicable situation, image does have a lot to do with a state's ability to attract and retain businesses. If a state is viewed as being friendly toward business, more business leaders are likely to pay attention to that state's pitch when thinking about relocating or expanding their operations. No one can argue the fact that it's certainly is better to have a positive image rather than a negative image when it comes to business friendliness.
That's why last week's news that CNBC had released its new "Top States for Business" rankings was such a big deal for Wisconsin. Seems Wisconsin fared quite well in the latest list, climbing eight spots to rank number 17 in the nation. Last year the state ranked 25th in the nation. This year's improved ranking is the highest rank Wisconsin has achieved since CNBC began conducting the study in 2007. The lowest ranking the state had was 37th in 2008.
CNBC apparently scores all 50 states on 43 measures of competitiveness in categories that include such things as cost of doing business, workforce, quality of life, economy, infrastructure and transportation, technology and innovation, education, business friendly, access to capital, and cost of living.
Whether the state's improving business climate is completely attributable to Gov. Scott Walker's initiatives over the past couple years, or whether the Republican leadership in the Wisconsin Legislature should be given a bunch of credit for the image boost, is open for debate.
What's clear is that Wisconsin's perceived progress toward pro-business policies is having a positive impact. That image boost may not have translated into a huge economic recovery for the state just yet, but the news is reason for optimism among elected officials, taxpayers, job seekers and business leaders.
When it comes to its business image, we think, Wisconsin is heading in the right direction.