On Tuesday, for the second year in a row, North Carolina earned the top spot in CNBC’s annual “America’s Top States for Business” rankings out of all 50 states. Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, wasted no time taking credit in an interview with CNBC. However, N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said there’s more to the story.
“If you look at what I believe have been the biggest factors that have really improved the state—fiscal accountability, lower taxes, lower regulations—many of those things had to be done or were done in spite of the objections from [Cooper],” Moore told Carolina Journal. “In all fairness, I don’t think he can take credit for those.”
Although Moore wouldn’t give him credit for creating a favorable business environment, Moore did give Cooper credit for helping recruit those businesses to North Carolina.
“Certainly when it has come to working to recruit companies to come to the state, the governor has absolutely worked with the General Assembly on those,” Moore said. “So you know, I think there have been those items where we have agreed and it’s paid off, and I think there’s times where we haven’t agreed and it has still worked out to the benefit of the state.”
Sitting in front of Asheville’s Biltmore House, Cooper spent nearly his entire CNBC interview criticizing the direction in which the General Assembly wants to take North Carolina.
“We are not here to fight Mickey Mouse,” Cooper said, implying the General Assembly is taking a similar approach to social issues as Republicans in Florida. “We are here to fight for jobs in North Carolina.”
When pressed, Cooper said he does not think the Republican-led General Assembly’s social policies will cause businesses to leave the state. However, he said he thinks it will lead to less businesses coming in.
“I think the damage is more long-term in the culture wars,” Cooper said. “You still see people going to Florida and Texas, but you begin to see an erosion over time.”
N.C. Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, also took a shot at Cooper, saying he deserves little credit for North Carolina’s top business ranking.
“We should all celebrate that North Carolina’s business climate continues to be the best in the nation, notwithstanding the Governor’s obstructionism and vetoes of business-friendly legislation,” Berger said. “Efforts by partisan voices to highlight policy disagreements to score cheap political points and create negative impressions have failed. The good work put in by the people and businesses here in North Carolina overcame those efforts.”
Berger credited Republican lawmakers’ longterm vision for the state.
“Republicans had a vision and plan when we won control of the General Assembly back in 2010, and improving our state’s business climate was a big part of that,” Berger said. “It’s rewarding to see North Carolina prevail over several other qualified contenders.”
In CNBC’s category rankings, North Carolina scored first in “Workforce,” third in “Economy,” seventh in “Education,” and tenth in “Business Friendliness.”
According to CNBC, North Carolina is only the second state ever to secure the number 1 spot in back-to-back years.