Rhode Island ranks low on small-business friendliness survey

RHODE ISLAND ranked No. 48 on Thumbtack's 2018 Business Friendliness Survey. / COURTESY THUMBACK

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island ranked No. 48 in the nation for small-business friendliness in a survey conducted by Thumbtack Inc. and released Tuesday.

In its 2018 Small Business Friendliness Survey, the company surveyed 7,629 small-business owners around the country on how their states stacked up on policy and the level of support from their communities. It then divided the questions into eight policy grades, to which it assigned letter grades.

Rhode Island’s overall score among the 50 states was a D in the survey, after receiving a D+ and a No. 46 ranking one year prior.

Thumbtack broke down its overall ranking into component parts as well. And with one exception, the state fared poorly in the survey. The Ocean State ranked last in the country for overall regulations, tax regulations and licensing regulations, all earning the state an F. The state also received an F for its government websites, although that was good enough to rank the state No. 37 in the country.

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Rhode Islander’s sentiments about both licensing regulations and tax regulations were given a C- score in 2017, the state’s largest score declines year over year.

The state received a D+ for ease of starting a business, ranking No. 48 in the nation, earned a D+ for ease of hiring, ranking No. 42 in the United States and a D for employment, labor and hiring regulations, ranking No. 48 in the country.

Despite the low overall ranking, the state’s training and networking programs earned an A+ from respondent and ranked No. 1 in the country.

However, a majority of Rhode Island respondents (72 percent) said they thought the government was more concerned with attracting new corporations than supporting small businesses in the state.

Overall, South Dakota ranked No. 1 in the report, followed by Tennessee and Alaska, Michigan and Utah, all which received A+ grades.

Rhode Island had the lowest score of any New England state, ranking higher than Illinois (No. 50) and Hawaii (No. 49) on the survey.

Maine was the highest ranked state in New England at No. 10 overall, with an A- score. Massachusetts, the second highest in New England, ranked No, 15 in the survey, also with an A- score.

Massachusetts received its highest score for ease of starting a business, with a B- score (No. 26 in the U.S.), but received its highest ranking for training and networking programs at No. 13 in the country with a C+ score. The Bay State received its lowest grade and ranking for its government websites at No. 42 with an F grade.

Other Massachusetts grades:

  • Ease of hiring: C grade, No. 30 in the U.S.
  • Overall regulations: C grade, No. 36 in the U.S.
  • Labor Employment and hiring regulations: C+ grade, No. 41 in the U.S.
  • Tax Regulations: D grade, No. 39 in the nation
  • Licensing regulations: C grade, No. 35 in the U.S.

Respondents ranked New Hampshire third in the region with a B score, ranking it No. 23 in the country. Both Connecticut and Vermont received C- scores ranking them No. 38 and No. 39, respectively.

The survey also evaluated 57 U.S. cities this year and gave Providence a D+, ranking it No. 50 out of 57.

The city received an F for government websites, D’s for ease of hiring, licensing regulations and overall regulation, a D+ for ease of starting a business, a C- grade for tax regulations, a C for employment, labor and hiring regulations, and an A- for training and networking programs.

The prior year, the city received a D letter grade overall.

Fort Worth, Texas, ranked No.1, followed by San Antonio. San Francisco ranked last in the survey. Manchester, N.H., ranked the highest of any New England city included in the survey at No. 8 with a letter grade of A, followed by Boston at No. 13 with an A-. Hartford, Conn., received a C and a ranking of No. 36.

Chris Bergenheim is the PBN web editor. He can be reached at Bergenheim@PBN.com.