ATLANTA -- It's a title that Georgia's elected officials have been touting for years now, but a new CNBC list suggests that Georgia may no longer be the No. 1 state in the U.S. in which to do business.
In the network's annual list, Georgia fell from second place to seventh with crime and utility costs high among the reasons the state lost ground. NBC scored all 50 states on more than 60 "measures of competitiveness" to come up with the ranking.
Utility costs drove down one of those metrics, "Cost of Doing Business," to a score of 155 out of a total 350 points possible (a grade of C). Meanwhile, an alleged rising crime rate pushed down the "Quality of Life" score to 138 out of a possible score of 300 (a grade of D).
Georgia Power, one of the state's largest utilities and a subsidiary of Southern Company, released a statement on Wednesday in response to the state's new rating.
Spokesperson John Kraft said that the company's rates are 14 percent below the national average and that the base rates have been frozen since 2016 with no plans to readjust them until 2020. Kraft also pointed to the fact that utilities encompass more than just electricity.
"It's important to note that 'utility costs' could include electric, gas, water and other services," he said adding that Georgia Power is just one of almost 100 electricity providers in Georgia.
In terms of crime, Dwayne Orrick with the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police told 11Alive that claims of crime being up in the state don't match with the statistics his organization has seen.
"Care has to be taken objectively evaluate crime data as to the source, evolving trends or patterns, and other variables. When reviewing the official governmental statistics, we do not see the increases suggested," Orrick said. "Without more information, it is difficult to evaluate their conclusions that one of 64 metrics caused the State to change that much."
That said, Orrick added that the survey "clearly shows the importance of excellent law enforcement agencies to the economic and community development" of Georgia.
"Because of this, it is critical our state and local leaders support their police departments and provide our officers with competitive compensation packages so we can attract and maintain the best officers," he said.
Despite the two relatively low grades, Georgia has remained in the top 10 of the CNBC list since it last held the top spot back in 2014. However, in the next year it was bounced to fifth due to low scores in the same categories that led to the 2018 drop.
Low ranks in categories like cost of doing business, quality of life and education pushed it to eighth in 2016. The year 2017 saw yet another rebound with Atlanta almost reclaiming the coveted title of number one state for business coming second only to Minnesota.
Regardless of the turbulent ratings of the CNBC ratings, the state continues to use the top state moniker when advertising new jobs and business - with even Gov. Nathan Deal repeating the tagline in numerous speeches.
And he's not technically wrong. While Georgia hasn't held the top spot on the CNBC list, it has stayed there in lists created by AreaDevelopment.com and Site Selection Magazine. Up to 2017, Georgia has retained the crown in the former for 5 years and the latter for 4.