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America’s Top State for Business – Education

6/29/2015 10:14:43 AM

It hardly came as a surprise that Minnesota ranked high in education when CNBC crowned the state "America's Top State for Business 2015" last week.

Minnesota finished second in the education category - one of 10 broad measures the business news channel examined in determining the best state for business. Minnesota trailed only Massachusetts in education and took a big step up from a year ago, when CNBC ranked the state 12th in education.

Education has long been a point of pride in Minnesota, a key value that officials believe sets us apart from other states. "Our schools, colleges and universities underpin our better workforce, higher-quality public services, healthier citizenry and superior quality of life," said Gov. Mark Dayton.

CNBC gave Minnesota 150 points out of a possible 200 points in the education category. For each state, the network said it looked at traditional measures of K-12 education, including test scores, class size and spending. CNBC also considered the number of higher education institutions in each state, as well as long-term trends for funding higher education.

Among Minnesota's strengths, the state has more than 200 public and private higher education institutions and a highly educated workforce. The state ranks second in the country for the share of the population with a high school diploma (92.5 percent) and 11th in the share with a bachelor's degree (32.5 percent). Minnesota's eighth graders rank in the top 10 nationally in reading, math and science test scores.

Additionally, Minnesota has some of the best training and re-retraining opportunities in the country for workers looking for careers that are in high demand. They include DEED programs such as the Dislocated Worker Program, FastTRAC and the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership.

As CNBC pointed out, education and business go hand in hand. Not only do companies want to draw from an educated pool of workers, they also want to offer their employees a great place to raise a family. Higher education institutions offer companies a source to recruit new talent, as well as a partner in research and development.

The other nine categories CNBC examined in the study included access to capital, business friendliness, economy, and infrastructure and transportation. In the next few weeks, we'll look closer at each category and how the state stacked up. Up next: quality of life.

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