Updated as of July 18 at 2:37 p.m. to include data from Brooke Buffington, director of the student professional development center. 

North Carolina has been named America’s top state for business in 2022, ahead of both Washington and Virginia, according to a CNBC study

Since the inception of the study in 2007, the state has consistently ranked in the top 10, and in 2021, finished right behind Virginia. This year marks the first time North Carolina has ranked No. 1, with the study citing the state’s economy and track record of innovation. 

Gov. Roy Cooper was in Wrightsville Beach, where the winner was revealed, July 13. He told CNBC the main reason North Carolina was named the best place to do business was the people. 

“This is a great honor, and we’re going to continue to work with our state legislature, businesses, education leaders and employees to build the talented workforce and resilient infrastructure needed to support the high paying jobs of the next generation,” Cooper said.

Brooke Buffington, director of the student professional development center, said for Elon University, this ranking means more opportunities for students.  

“With the big companies coming in, I would absolutely say that it’s drawing even more of an interest from our students who may have worked elsewhere post-graduation, who may have been looking to go back to the Northeast or go to Chicago or down to Texas are now adding North Carolina into that mix of a state they want to stay in,” Buffington said. 

At the time of graduation for the class of 2022, 18% of graduates stayed in North Carolina for jobs or graduate school, according to Buffington.