Making the grade: Sacramento’s small business climate improves | Crain's Sacramento

Making the grade: Sacramento’s small business climate improves

Sacramento is becoming friendlier toward small businesses when it comes to government regulations, according to the latest report card on small business friendliness by Thumbtack. | Crain National photo by Jim Watkins.

When it comes to business friendliness, Sacramento has been hitting the books. And people are happier about it.

The city of Sacramento received an overall grade of “C” on Thumbtack’s annual Small Business Friendliness Report Card. That may not sound terribly impressive, but it’s the first time in the history of the five-year-old survey that the Capital City did not receive a “D” or an “F.”

Sacramento’s 2017 grade is also slightly higher than that of California as a whole. The state’s “C-” is up from a “D” in 2016, and places it 43rd out of all 50 states, according to the report. Sacramento ranked 57th out of 80 cities surveyed.

Thumbtack’s report card involved more than 13,000 local small business owners. The goal was to evaluate how easy local governments make it to start, operate and grow a small business, according to Thumbtack Economist Lucas Puente, PhD.

“[In this survey], small business owners told us that the top priority for their local and state governments should be to make regulations straightforward and easy to follow—especially those surrounding licensing, taxes, safety and employment,” the report notes. “Small businesses see these types of regulations as their biggest impediment to starting, growing and sustaining a thriving business. As a result, states and cities that have successfully streamlined the regulatory steps to starting and growing a business received the highest scores from small business owners in the survey.”

The highest grade Sacramento received was in availability of government websites (“B-”), representing those opportunities for skilled professionals to learn about regulations and requirements to operate their businesses.

Considering the fact that government is the largest employer in the Sacramento area—and that it is the capital of the nation’s most-populated state—the better-than-average score is no surprise, according to Thumbtack Founder and CEO Marco Zappacosta.

“Small businesses are using technology to start businesses, find customers and to grow their businesses,” Zappacosta says. “They would like to have the same clarity and ease-of-use when interacting with government.”

Sacramento also received acceptable grades of “C” for employment, labor and hiring regulations, and availability of training and networking programs.

Wyoming, Maine and Texas and Boise, Idaho, San Antonio and Grand Rapids, Mich., are among the top states and cities for 2017, respectively, each earning an “A+”.

On the flip side, New Mexico, Illinois and Alaska, and Honolulu, Rochester, N.Y., and Greensboro, N.C. received grades of “F,” making them the worst-ranked states and cities in the survey.

“The future of work is small business,” Zappacosta says. “If you want to control the economic destiny of your community, invest in small business.”

Founded in San Francisco in 2009, Thumbtack utilized a proprietary inventory system for local services that matches a customer with a qualified local pro for the job. According to Puente, the company has helped customers complete 25 million jobs, such as plumbing, catering, personal training and math tutoring.

October 25, 2017 - 2:50am