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CNBC: Nebraska Rises to No. 4 Top State for Business in 2013

Best of the Best Top States: Fourth Place

Tuesday, 9 Jul 2013 | 11:41 AM ET


CNBC’s Scott Cohn reports that tax reform has helped place Nebraska as one of the best states for business.

Warren Buffett, there’s reason to be proud of your home state’s business environment.

Nebraska, the Cornhusker State, has cracked the top five in CNBC’s America’s Top States for Business for the first time.

Landing at No. 4 in the 2013 ranking with 1,575 points, Nebraska continues to trend up among states battling for business—it finished at No. 6 last year.

A big part of the Nebraska points total comes courtesy of Business Friendliness, a category in which it ranks third overall. Nebraska finished fourth in Economy and Best Quality of Life also.

(Read More: Top U.S. States for New Manufacturing Jobs)

Tax reform has been a major focus of Gov. Dave Heineman, who signed into law a number of tax relief measures just last month, which he called, “”the largest tax relief package in Nebraska history.”

One of the tax reforms is directly aimed at improving the business tax climate, giving businesses the opportunity to spread loses over a 20-year period. The governor has no intention of stopping, stating “We could have done a lot more.” He is pushing hard to get the state legislature to drop income tax rates, claiming that those states with low to no income taxes are the strongest economically. Heineman says he will “keep the pressure on” for the cuts he wants, but he is running out of time. Nebraska law mandates a two-consecutive term limit for governors and this year is Heineman’s last in office. Tax rates are probably higher than the governor would like.

Here’s a look at Nebraska’s tax climate:

  • Top individual income tax rate: 6.84%
  • Top corporate tax rate: 7.81%
  • State sales tax: 5.5%

A healthy economy, led by top employer Tyson Foods and the agriculture and food processing industry, has helped to keep unemployment in Nebraska at 3.8 percent, roughly half the national jobless rate.

If Nebraska wants to keep a spot in the Top 5 in years to come, it will need to improve in categories where it continues to score poorly, including Access to Capital and Technology and Innovation. Venture capital dollars have had a hard time flowing to the Midwest as of late.

—By CNBC’s Eric Rosenbaum.