Report ranks governments' 'small business friendliness'

Recommended Reading from American City and County Magazine
By Larry Conley

Oklahoma City ranked No. 1 in the country in “small business friendliness,” according to a new survey, and Sacramento, Calif., ranked last. Idaho topped all states, with Rhode Island bringing up the rear, according to the survey, “United States Small Business Friendliness,” by Thumbtack.com in partnership with the Kansas City, Mo.-based Kauffman Foundation.

The findings were based on a two-month survey of 6,000 small business owners nationwide. The survey queried business owners about the ease of starting a business in their locale, hiring costs, taxes and regulations, and the availability of training or networking programs. 

The top five-rated cities for small business friendliness were Oklahoma City; Dallas-Fort Worth San Antonio and Austin, Texas; and Atlanta. The bottom five cities were Detroit; Tucson, Ariz.; and three California cities, Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento. 

The top five states were Idaho, Texas, Oklahoma, Utah and Louisiana. The bottom five were New York, California, Hawaii, Vermont and Rhode Island. 

Among the survey’s key findings, small business owners said licensing requirements were nearly twice as important as tax-related regulations in determining the business friendliness of their city or state. Women small business owners were 9 percent more likely than men to feel supported by their state government, and an important predictor of business friendliness was whether business owners are aware of state or local government training programs for small businesses. 

“Easy-to-understand licensing regulations and well-publicized training programs are often overlooked as critical tools necessary to support small businesses,” said Sander Daniels, co-founder of Thumbtack.com.