If you’re thinking of starting up a small business in North Carolina, Asheville may not be the best choice according to a new Small Business Friendliness Survey from Thumbtack and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
The survey, conducted over 38 states and 82 metropolitan areas and including responses from over 12,000 small business owners, ranked Asheville dead last out of five North Carolina cities (Asheville, Durham, Raleigh, Charlotte and Winston-Salem). The cities were ranked on a scale from A+ to F using 11 metrics:
• Overall small business friendliness – (Asheville, C+) (North Carolina average, C+)
• Ease of starting a small business – (AVL, D+) (NC, B)
• Ease of hiring a new employee – (AVL, B) (NC, C+)
• Overall regulatory friendliness – (AVL, C) (NC, B+)
• Friendliness of health and safety regulations – (AVL, D) (NC, B+)
• Friendliness of employment, labor and hiring regulations – (AVL, B) (NC, A)
• Friendliness of tax code – (AVL, D+) (NC, B-)
• Friendliness of licensing regulations – (AVL, B-) (NC, B+)
• Friendliness of environmental regulations – (AVL, C) (NC, B)
• Friendliness of zoning regulations – (AVL, B-) (NC, B)
• Availability of helpful training or networking programs – (AVL, D+) (NC, B)
According to the results above, Asheville ranked behind the N.C. averages in most of the metrics used. Raleigh, Charlotte and Durham all rated fairly high nationally in overall small business friendliness (Charlotte – A, Durham – B+, Raleigh – A-), and Charlotte was ranked 14 out of the 82 cities nationwide, while Asheville landed at 44.
“After a two-month survey of thousands of small business owners nationwide, Asheville’s friendliness towards small business can be rated against 81 other cities in the country,” said Jon Lieber, Chief Economist of Thumbtack.com in an email. “Creating a business climate that is welcoming to small, dynamic businesses is more important than ever, and Asheville’s small business community has said the city could do better.”
Small businesses in Asheville gave particularly low marks for the usability of local government websites, rating them second worst in the nation, according to Thumbtack.
North Carolina as a whole ranked 21 out of 38 states in the survey.