Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Durham Outranks State and Peer Cities for Small Business

Thumbtack conducts a survey of small businesses and uses the results to rank states and cities on a series of aspects.  North Carolina overall falls in the middle compared to other states with an overall friendliness rating of B-.

The biggest challenge faced by small businesses statewide is apparently access to credit.  Taxes fall #7 and regulations a distant #11, cited by only 1.7% of respondents.

In fact, small businesses gave NC a B- for environmental and a B for regulations.  Not bad compared to the overall rating of B- but surely news to regressives in the General Assembly.

But in results released today, Durham, NC, where I happen to live, is given an A- overall, highest among the state’s larger cities and towns.  The Bull City, where great things happen, earned As on six criteria including regulations and an A+ for tax code and training programs.

Durham also ranks 14th out of 95 cities rated nationwide.

An area for improvement is the ease of starting a business.  Small businesses gave Durham an A- for regulations and a B+ for environmental.

Durham’s overall rating is up from a B in 2012 while North Carolina’s has improved from a C+ to a B-.

A major take-away for North Carolina policy makers is focus on making credit easier to obtain and to not be distracted by the relative few small businesses concerned about regulations.

Another take-away is that some of the state’s larger cities, which some lawmakers seem determined to undermine wherever possible are doing a much better job for small businesses than the state as a whole.

Sentiment is gleaned annually from 18,000 truly small businesses, of which 90% have five or fewer employees.  These are the independent businesses that make up 20% of the workforce and lead the way in job creation.

Yet they are often overlooked because they don’t have time to attend meetings or hire lobbyists or testify at public hearings.  Nor are they any longer on the radar of business advocacy groups such as most chambers of commerce.

Much of that void has been filled by community destination marketing organization where they aren’t still trapped in a membership model and by Thumbtack, which in part provides a marketplace where businesses bid on consumers.

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