North Carolina’s dominance as the top choice for businesses to expand or relocate continues, as far as economic development magazine Site Selection reports it.

The Tar Heel state finished first in site rankings as “Top Business Climate” for the third consecutive year, Site Selection reports in its new issue.

North Carolina also has finished first in six of the past seven years.

Corporate executives are a key part of the selection process, responsible for 50 percent of the index Site Selection used in ranking the states. The executives placed North Carolina second behind Texas. Other criteria, such as new plants, put North Carolina on top.

Georgia ranked second overall, followed by Texas, Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee and Ohio. South Carolina ranked 10th.

Gov. Mike Easley greeted the selection quite happily.

“Corporate executives know North Carolina is listening to them and (that) we understand what they need to succeed,” he said in a statement. “We are investing in education to provide a skilled work force, making regulation and permit procedures clear and reasonable, and offering a low state and local tax burden. All these make our state the top choice for companies looking to grow.”

In the article discussing the selection process, Site Selection cited several corporate relocation or expansion projects, such as contract research organizations INC Research (1,093 jobs), PRA International (several hundred jobs), Quintiles Transnational (1,000 jobs) and Force Protection, Inc. The latter recently decided to build a production plant for high-tech armored vehicles in Person County.

”A significant number of corporate investors in North Carolina cited the state’s quality of life, favorable business climate and access to top-notch academic and research facilities in our recent survey of site selectors,” Site Selection Editor-in-Chief Mark Arend said in a statement. ”The Department of Commerce deserves credit, as well, as an executive interviewed for our November cover story makes clear.”

In the executive survey conducted in October, the top 10 were:

  1. Texas
  2. North Carolina
  3. Georgia
  4. South Carolina
  5. Florida
  6. Tennessee
  7. Alabama
  8. Nevada
  9. Virginia
  10. Kentucky