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Florida gets “B-” for business friendliness, new survey says

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According to a survey of small business owners put out by consumer service website Thumbtack.com, Florida’s overall “business friendliness” gets a B- for 2015, putting it in 21st place among the 36 states rated in the survey.

Released Tuesday, the Small Business Friendliness Survey compiled survey responses from small business owners who use Thumbtack services in 95 cities across the country, giving an in-depth look at how the owners see state and local business environments. Florida data is based on 1,709 responses.

The survey broke down into ten categories, grading states on everything from how easy it is to get a business license to environmental regulations. Florida’s strong point was its tax code, which respondents gave an A though most other metrics in the report saw a dip from their 2014 grade.

“Small business owners on Thumbtack have consistently told us that they welcome support from their governments but are frequently frustrated by unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles,” said Jon Lieber, Chief Economist at Thumbtack. “Florida’s small businesses like the tax climate in the state but report there is a lot of room for improvement if the state wants to be more appealing to entrepreneurs.”

Responses showed the availability of training programs on how to start and develop a business was the most important factor in how business owners rated their state. Other key factors were tax regulations and labor regulations. Florida got a B for employment, labor and hiring regulations and a C for how easy it is to hire a new employee.

While Florida’s overall grade improved from its C+ showing in 2014, neighboring state Georgia fared better with an A and Alabama edged out the Sunshine State with a B. Texas topped the list with an A+ while California and New York filled the last two slots in the rankings with Fs.

No Florida city managed to crack the top-10 city list, which was topped by Manchester, NH and included four Texas cities. Sarasota had the highest ranking in Florida, bringing home a B+ report card, while Port St. Lucie got the lowest ranking in the state with a C.  Jacksonville led the state’s major metros with a B. Orlando got a B-, with Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa each coming in with a C+.

The survey developed with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, compiled responses from 17,633 small business owners. Most respondents were sole proprietors, with 90 percent of those surveyed having fewer than five employees. While all states were included in the survey, only states with more than 50 respondents and cities with more than 30 respondents were included in the rankings.

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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