Thumbtack study puts R.I. dead last for business friendliness

Rhode Island ranks as the least friendly state in the U.S. for small business, according to a new survey by Thumbtack.com of 12,000 entrepreneurs. More

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Thumbtack study puts R.I. dead last for business friendliness

COURTESY THUMBTACK.COM
RHODE ISLAND RANKED dead last in a study examining business friendliness in the 50 U.S. states, rating "F" grades for overall friendliness, ease of starting a business, ease of hiring, regulations, health and safety, employment/labor/hiring, tax code, licensing and zoning.
Posted 8/4/14

(Updated, Aug. 5, 2:45 p.m.)

SAN FRANCISCO – Rhode Island ranks as the least friendly state in the U.S. for small business, according to a new survey by Thumbtack.com of 12,000 entrepreneurs.

This the second year in a row the Ocean State landed at the bottom of the list in the Small Business Friendliness Survey, conducted in cooperation with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

“Creating a business climate that is welcoming to small, dynamic businesses is more important than ever and Rhode Island continues to fail its small businesses in this regard,” said John Lieber, chief economist for Thumbtack.com, a consumer service that compares options for a variety of services.

Some of the key findings of the survey are that Rhode Island received an “F” in nine of the 11 categories rated. Those “F” ratings are in overall friendliness, ease of starting a business, ease of hiring, regulations, health and safety, employment/labor/hiring, tax code, licensing and zoning.

The state also earned a “D+” in the environmental rating, based on how accessible state or local governments are with regard to environmental regulations.

Rhode Island’s highest rating in the survey was a “C-” for training and networking programs.

Women entrepreneurs rated the state’s business friendliness 14 percent higher than the ratings given by men, and Rhode Island had the highest percentage of small businesses who said they pay an unfairly high level of taxes, the survey found.

“Policy makers put themselves in the best position to encourage sustainable growth and long-term prosperity by listening to the voices of small business owners themselves,” said Dan Stangler, vice president of policy and research at the Kauffman Foundation.

The top rated states overall were Utah, Idaho, Texas, Virginia and Louisiana. The lowest ranked states, in addition to Rhode Island were Illinois, California, Connecticut and New Jersey.

The survey also looked at cities and “…Providence’s small businesses see a lot of room for improvement,” said Lieber.

The city of Providence also earned an “F” for its overall friendliness to small business. The survey found that Providence was one of the nation’s hardest cities in which to start a business and hire new workers. Providence ranked 80th of 82 cities for business owners who would encourage others to start their own businesses.

The top rated cities overall were Colorado Springs, Colo.; Boise, Idaho; Houston; Austin, Texas; and Louisville, Ky. The lowest rated, in addition to Providence, were San Diego and Sacramento, Calif., Buffalo, N.Y., and Bridgeport, Conn.

The Rhode Island results are available now in full at www.thumbtack.com/ri.

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