Annual Small Business Friendliness Survey Gives Good Grades to Columbus

It’s generally good news for Columbus and Ohio as a whole in’s annual survey of small business friendliness.

The annual survey that is in its fourth year calls on business owners to provide insights on small business friendliness in their states and cities, asking about topics ranging from overall friendliness to specific aspects like ease of hiring, regulations, licensing and training & networking programs.

Columbus improved its grade from a ‘B’ in overall friendliness in 2014 to an ‘A-‘ in 2015. Ease of starting a business also improved from a ‘B’ to an ‘A’ while the city earned an ‘A+’ in training and networking resources for the second year in a row.

As discussed last year, training and networking resources play a critical role in creating a friendly small business climate and are a noteworthy achievement. More and better training means more stability when a business gets started, often setting them up for long-term success.

Columbus earned varying degrees of ‘B’ across the rest of the board except for in ease of hiring, where the city earned its lowest grade of a ‘C+’. The low grade is likely a reflection of the tight labor market. There’s jobs, but employers are having a hard time finding the right talent. (Read more on what the tight labor market means here.)

Overall the grades put Columbus at 15 out of 95 ranked cities across the U.S. They city’s full list of grades include:

  • – Overall Friendliness: A-
  • – Ease of Starting a Business: A
  • – Ease of Hiring: C+
  • – Regulations: B
  • – Health & Safety: B-
  • – Employment, Labor & Hiring: B+
  • – Tax Code: B
  • – Licensing: B-
  • – Environmental: B
  • – Zoning: B-
  • – Training & Networking Programs: A+

While Columbus’ grade has wavered across four years, Ohio as a state has shown steady improvement. The state raised its grade from a ‘C’ in 2014 to a ‘B’ in 2015. The state’s grades were similar to Columbus with ‘B’s’ across the board, expect for a ‘C-‘ when it comes to ease of hiring. While the grades reflect a decent environment for tax code at a city and state level, individual comments from business owners do indicate some frustration with tax regulations. But on a positive note, Ohio did make a similar high mark of ‘A-‘ in training and networking resources.

Across all categories, Ohio earned:

  • – Overall Friendliness: B
  • – Ease of Starting a Business: B
  • – Ease of Hiring: C-
  • – Regulations: B
  • – Health & Safety: B
  • – Employment, Labor & Hiring: B+
  • – Tax Code: B-
  • – Licensing: B
  • – Environmental: B+
  • – Zoning: B+
  • – Training & Networking Programs: A- has also started polling business owners monthly to measure sentiment. The latest data for the month of July indicates a somewhat positive sentiment from both Columbus and Ohio business owners. To keep up on monthly measures, click here for Columbus and here for Ohio.

Additional information on survey results for Columbus is available here, and for Ohio, here.