Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

July 18, 2013

Michigan slightly better

TRAVERSE CITY — A new study by CNBC finds Michigan slightly improved its ranking in states that are best for doing business.

Scott Cohn, a senior producer at CNBC, said Michigan’s recent, controversial move to become a right-to-work state helped its status in the poll, known as America’s Top States to Do Business. The rankings were released by the network last week.

Michigan became a right-to-work state after the Republican-controlled legislature passed the legislation during a lame-duck session just before Christmas. The measure essentially bans the collection of union dues as part of employment.

The network’s analysis ranked Michigan 29th overall, an improvement from the prior year’s ranking of 33. South Dakota finished first, followed by Texas and North Dakota.

Cohn said the network’s analysis looks at a number of different metrics, from education to technology, health and taxes. Michigan, he said, has a strong education system and does well in technology. The state improved in the standings this year largely because it ranked higher in the network’s workforce analysis. Michigan jumped from 38th to 15th in the workforce category of the study. Cohn said the network talked with business leaders, including the National Association of Manufacturers, which said they had a more favorable view of Michigan after the right-to-work change.

The network cautioned that the results are still out as to whether the right-to-work legislation in Michigan ultimately will produce more jobs.

“The right-to-work law improved (Michigan’s) standing considerably,” Cohn said. “We look at union membership and businesses look at that. We know that businesses look at it. They want to know the organized labor situation, as controversial as it may be.

“The actual data on whether right-to-work improved business production is mixed,” Cohn said. “But there’s a perception out there that businesses want to be right-to-work states, so it did improve (the rankings) overall.”

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