The State of Business in All 50 States

It’s a truism that all business today is global business. You need to have the national and international perspective on how your enterprise fits into the big puzzle of commerce whether you are running a small mom and pop orchard about to get hit with Chinese apple tariffs, or a multinational conglomerate facing down the implications of shifting trade agreements and tax codes.

But that doesn’t mean that location is no longer important. In fact, with the speed of communication and transportation factored in, understanding the laws and culture in state in which you learn business and do business is more important than ever.

Which is why we put together the best state-by-state guide to business that you’re going to find on the web. This is a site about business degrees, but schools are only a part of the equation – they don’t make the business world so much as reflect what’s going on it. Colleges are the proving grounds for young professionals destined to be the next magnates of regional businesses, and in the same way those businesses inevitably influence and inform the programs at the colleges nearby.

Whether it’s drawing from local executive talent for guest lectures or faculty, or providing sites for capstone projects and cooperative ventures, how you make your way in the business world has a lot to do with what the local business environment looks like.

Use Our State-By-State Breakdowns To See What’s Going on in Your Neck of the Woods

Those broad regional strokes only begin to paint the picture of the differences in business from state to state. From the following menu, though, you can click on any state for a detailed rundown of:

  • Top employers
  • Salary data
  • Job growth statistics

Not to mention, naturally, full and fair assessments of the best business schools available in each of those states.

Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut  | Delaware | District Of Columbia | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Puerto Rico | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming

A National Overview


The Northeast has traditionally been the financial center of the country, and recently of the world. New York and Boston contain the beating heart of international finance and lending. Since the financial services sector represents almost 9 percent of GDP by itself (that’s excluding business services, which is another 12 percent and also somewhat concentrated in the Northeast), you could fairly say that American business in general is centered there as well.

That makes for some heavyweight entries contending for the title of best American business school. Wharton, Harvard, Sloan, Columbia… when you see executives and titans of industry on the six o’clock news, there’s a good chance they have one of those names somewhere on their resume.

One of them could end up on your resume, too!


Agribusiness is big business, make no mistake—in 2017, crop values alone contributed over $141 billion to U.S. GDP. And that was only part of the $992 billion generated overall by agriculture, food, and related industries, more than 5 percent of GDP.

With the long, slow demise of Detroit as a center of American auto manufacturing, it’s become common to overlook what the Midwest still contributes to other industries, however. But there are some serious businesses in the Midwest that span the entire range of American Industry. Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet’s conglomerate that holds a big slice of big businesses from Apple to Fruit of the Loom, is the third largest public company in the world, and built right in Omaha. McDonald’s and Boeing are both headquartered in the Midwest.

So it’s no surprise that the region also fosters top-notch business schools like Kellogg at Northwestern University or the University of Chicago’s Booth School. You have plenty of educational and career options throughout the nation’s heartland.


Characterized by low cost of living and right-to-work laws, the south has increasingly drawn in skilled manufacturing from the Midwest and Northeast. Since 2000, the population of the south has also been increasing, giving employers a stronger hand in salary negotiations.

Yet the sunbelt states are also muscling into high tech and advanced manufacturing as their prime location for sun and wind energy makes them a natural point for development in those industries. Atlanta has become a surprise competitor to Silicon Valley. Eleven regional innovation centers have pulled in big names like IBM and Northrup Grumman.

Being located in the same time zone as Wall Street, it’s also had a leg up on developing financial technology. The lower cost of living is drawing in professionals sick of the skyrocketing housing costs in San Francisco and Seattle. And big names like Emory and Georgia Tech are churning out a highly educated workforce to take on new challenges for better pay.


The American West has a reputation for being both laid back and on the cutting edge of new business and technology trends. When places talk about becoming the new Silicon Valley, it’s important to remember that Silicon Valley is still the actual Silicon Valley… no one is replacing it and there are no shortage of jobs for well-educated business professionals anywhere on the West Coast.

International trade and business relations are also a big deal. The Pacific Rim is on fire as ideas, goods, and capital jet between the U.S. and China, Taiwan, Singapore, and Japan. It’s about more than just technology… agribusiness constitutes 15 percent of regional economic activity in Washington and Oregon, and California alone is the world’s 5th largest supplier of agricultural commodities.

Business is booming in the West, and big states allow a variety of opportunities in different industries for budding business majors. Stanford, the University of Washington, and the University of Southern California each have top-ranked business schools, but you can find excellent options at dozens of Western universities from Montana to Arizona to the Pacific.