What if, as seems evident to your humble scribe, New York, (no. 3 in population with 19.5 million) inescapably tied to the national and global economy in every aspect from shipping and manufacturing to communications and finance, has been trying really hard (a little edu-speak, there) and deserves points for effort if not achievement in the competitive economic arena? And what if Vermont (49 in population with .6 million) and no longer a major presence in commercial agriculture, manufacturing, destination tourism, or even (see my recent "Road not Taken" column) education, is now aggressively un-interested (not dis-; quiz your high school English student on this) in growing its economy, population, wealth, or standard-of-living? ALEC's study made no such policy-intent distinction. Others have: for a tangential example, consider the formerly-published Energy User News, which typically printed a range of news and numbers and always used the last page for a detailed state-ranking stats chart, one column of which rated regulatory climate.
Vermont typically received a D, and not by accident; as the late FDR famously observed, "nothing in politics happens by accident". A state government eager to shut down a third of its electric power can't be considered, as the ALEC study does, a serious competitor in the arena of states looking for citizen prosperity via gains in production and productivity, what are still called economically Progressive ambitions, but are certainly not politically Progressive ambitions.
ALEC hasn't yet done the study which compares state-by-state success in de-industrialization, "smart-growth", local-vore-ism, more green energy and less manufacturing, passive-income growth, and, of course "sustainability".
I'd guess that the new Vermont would score close to no. 1.
Consider this contrast: a frequent letter to the editor writer in Middlebury advocates dissuading population growth, natural or inmigration, and applauds the job-seeking or tax-fleeing outmigration of recent years as a welcome population shrinkage toward "sustainable" levels. Conversely, ALEC scores net-in-migration as a "good thing", a marker for economic attractiveness, growth, and prosperity.