A nationwide survey of business owners and corporate executives by the Missouri Partnership is shedding a favorable light on the state's business climate.

In a survey of more than 400 out-of-state professionals, the Missouri Partnership found that the perception of Missouri as a state favorable to business has increased by more than 100 percent since 2008. A similar survey in that year gave Missouri an 18 percent favorability ranking, while the most recent 2011 survey scores the state at 42 percent.

According to the Missouri Partnership, nearly half of the respondents in the survey were business owners who were likely to expand or relocate their businesses to another state within the next two years. Of those likely to relocate, 64 percent had a favorable view of Missouri's business climate and 44 percent would consider Missouri as a possible location.

Partnership officials said the increase in the survey's score during the last three years can be attributed to advances in state and local incentives for business owners, low labor costs and a softer tax climate. The study found that business leaders also are concerned about quality of life, labor quality, transportation, the regulatory environment, and the availability and cost of energy. Respondents rated Missouri favorably on all factors.

According to the nonprofit partnership, whose stated mission is to recruit new business investment, Missouri has the third-lowest business costs, the ninth-best regulatory environment and the ninth-best quality of life nationwide.

In 2011, more than 70 companies announced expansions of operations or relocations to Missouri-based facilities, including General Motors, Ford, Pro-Energy Services and SyMyco. These expansions represent nearly $2 billion in local investment and the creation of more than 10,000 jobs.