Contract up? Need a change? The ‘Smile States’ are where it’s at!

Posted on December 20, 2016

My son was graduating from Mizzou and he began to explore companies and opportunities.  He was looking for advice from Dad and came to me looking for some direction on where/how to find the right role, company and location.  Well, the role and company discussion was too long to print here but the location question was easily answered.

Kinda goes like this……..

“Dad, where should I look for a job out of school?”

“Son, you need to find a company with a strong presence in the ‘Smile States’ and be prepared to move there.”

“What? What’s a ‘Smile State?’

“Simple son, the ‘Smile States’ are the states that have the fastest growth. The fastest growth in revenue, corporate tax base, population, etc…”

“Gotta it Dad, but why are they called the ‘Smile States’?”

“Alex, easiest question you asked all day…print a map of the U.S., then grab a Sharpie and com’on back”

Within a couple moments, Alex had a fairly clear picture of the ‘Smile States’…….

So, this isn’t a perfect analytic methodology to determine the fastest growing economies in the U.S. and there are certainly urban areas and pockets that exceed median, but overall, it’s not too far off.  Audiences and clients will be following economic trends. Jobs and affordable housing are keys to DMA MSA growth and ultimately, rankings. During peaks in oil/gas, states like North Dakota will shoot to the top of GDP growth charts, but its highly cyclical.  Need proof? Check out regional job growth from earlier this year…..

The BIG takeaway:

If you are a graduating college senior, leaving grad school, or someone in the midst of career transition and have geo flexibility, you can’t go too far wrong by looking in the ‘Smile States’.  Before the hate mail starts from my friends in the Heartland, Plains, Rockies, or Midwest, this is obviously a broad generalization based on regional growth and this smile line probably needs to be hundreds of miles wide. BUT, there is little argument based on 10 years growth models that our population is coming from the north/center of the country and moving left, right, or down.   In addition, no state income taxes in Texas, Florida, Nevada, etc are extremely attractive to high wage earners and retirees. Couple this with corporate tax incentives in states like South Carolina or Alabama (drawing HUGE automotive investments – BMW, Mercedes, Hyundai, Honda, Volvo etc) and you get the picture.

So, what happened when Alex graduated from Mizzou? Yep, he had a job offer to move to San Antonio and Phoenix…..he moved to Phoenix, was recently promoted hasn’t looked back since.  Keep smiling son!

check out this post and more career management tips at

About Mike McNamara:mmc-on-mac

Mike has held C-Suite, Executive and Senior Sales, Marketing, Business Development, and General Management roles with Equifax, Cox Enterprises, WW Grainger, and Federal-Mogul Corporation.  Mike has led sales, service and operations organizations of over 1,500 associates and accountable for P&L responsibility in excess of $250M.

Dedicated to giving back, Mike formed The MBAR Group in 2009 with the sole intent of providing pro bono career and business consulting services.  Today he coaches a number of high profile media personalities as well as holding advisory board positions guiding a number of multimedia and small business startups.

Mike earned his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University.  He is a past chapter President of the American Marketing Association.  Mike and family split time between their adopted state of Missouri and family home in NW Michigan where their philanthropic causes include The Kingdom House – St Louis, BACN in Benzonia, MI., and Samaritan’s Purse, Boone NC.

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