Friendly to small business

Survey of owners ranks Idaho second in nation

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COEUR d'ALENE - Idaho is the second-friendliest state for small business and the easiest place to start a business, according to a nationwide survey of small business owners.

Only Utah ranked higher than the Gem State, according to results of a survey released Monday by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and online business networking site Thumbtack.com.

"After a two-month survey of thousands of small business owners nationwide, Idaho's reputation as a state welcoming of small business has been affirmed," said Jon Lieber, Thumbtack.com's chief economist. "Creating a business climate that is welcoming to small, dynamic businesses is more important than ever, and Idaho has a strong showing across the board."

The state, Lieber said, won accolades from small businesses in every category surveyed. The state was ranked as the easiest place to start a business because of its "friendly regulatory environment."

The survey found Idaho had the highest share of entrepreneurs who receive their primary income from their business and the state had the second highest share of business startups.

"It's good news," Coeur d'Alene Chamber of Commerce President Steve Wilson said Monday. "Hopefully we will be able to use that to our advantage in the coming years and promote Coeur d'Alene as a great place to do business."

The state's business-friendly environment, Wilson said, puts it at an advantage when it comes to job generation and the ability to attract new business. Aside from Utah, Idaho's neighboring states didn't fare well in the survey, he noted.

While Idaho received an overall "A-plus," Washington received an overall "C" and Oregon received a "C-minus." Nevada had a grade of "B-plus." The survey did not include the states of Montana or Wyoming.

Some surveyed provided comments supporting their rankings of their home state in various areas.

"Idaho is a great place to own a business," wrote a photographer from Coeur d'Alene. "Local authorities are more than helpful and encouraging. They actually provide assistance and support that works."

A house cleaner from Rathdrum wrote: "I found it very inviting and easy to start a small business here in the Panhandle of North Idaho and I'm very happy with the support I have received there being a small business owner."

Because the survey is a survey of actual small business owners, it's a reflection of how small business owners really feel and what they're experiencing, said Bill Jhung, Regional Director of the Idaho Small Business Development Center in Post Falls.

"Every single business has an important role in the economy," Jhung said. "We get that, as a state, that every business is important. We value them. We want to see them thrive."

Idaho's economy depends on these small businesses, Jhung said, because the state doesn't have as much big business or "mega stars" as other states.

People move to Idaho to start businesses, he said, because of the perception that Idaho values small businesses.

"Idaho has that reputation," Jhung said. "We're not a perfect state, but what they experience is healthier and more supportive than what they might find in other states."

According to a press released from Thumbtack.com, more than 12,000 entrepreneurs nationwide participated in the survey.

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