Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has struggled to retain businesses during the state's well-chronicled fiscal woes.
Good transportation, access to capital and an emphasis on technology helped Illinois jump to No. 22 in an annual report from CNBC on the best states for businesses.
The state drew top 10 marks in those categories and scored solidly in the costs of living and doing business criteria to move up from No. 30 in the annual report. Virginia finished No. 1 in the report, followed by 2010 winner Texas.
“Despite widely-publicized economic woes in Illinois, the state improved in our rankings this year," said CNBC Senior Correspondent Scott Cohn. "This is not to say Illinois is out of the woods, but it may suggest the worst is over.”
The state was hampered from showing even more improvement by a No. 45 showing in the Workforce category.
“Stagnant population growth and a strong union presence hurt Illinois in our Workforce category, which measures the labor force from the point of view of business.”
Gov. Pat Quinn, who succeeded disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich and won re-election last year, has struggled to keep the fiscally-strapped state business friendly. He predicted a $2,500 small business tax credit he signed into law will generate 20,000 jobs.
“Small businesses are essential to the Illinois economy and it’s crucial that state government find fresh and creative ways of working with entrepreneurs, who will lead the charge toward economic recovery,” Quinn said.
Rounding out the top five best states for business were: North Carolina, Georgia and Colorado. Rhode Island fared the worst in the nation, below Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi and West Virginia.