The 5 Best and Worst Cities for Small Businesses, According to Small-Business Owners

Colorado Spring rated an A+ on "overall friendliness." Colorado Spring rated an A+ on "overall friendliness." John Hoffman/

Small-business owners in Colorado Springs really like being small-business owners right where they are.

There are a number of surveys that use state and federal data to determine how good places are for small businesses. But a new survey released Tuesday asks small-business owners what they think of their hometowns.

San Francisco-based consumer-service website Thumbtack conducted the survey with 12,000 small-business owners and operators in 82 cities from 38 states. Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Vermont were not included because of a lack of survey response.

Since this is a survey, the results are subjective and are not based on federal or state economic data. This is the perception of businesspeople in the area who are members of Thumbtack, which shows an important aspect of local business culture. The rankings cover the metropolitan area, not just the city proper.

Here are three of the several dozen questions asked:

  • "In general, how would you rate your state's support of small-business owners?"
  • "Would you discourage or encourage someone from starting a new business in your state?" and
  • "Do you think you pay your fair share of taxes?"

Colorado Springs, Colo., the highest-ranked city in the survey, has the friendliest licensing rules in the country. Small-business owners from there were also the third happiest in the country in terms of the tax burden. Coupled with eight "A+" grades and three "A" grades, it led to the top rating in the country.

The full map shows that most cities in traditionally red states get better rankings from small-business owners, with exceptions in Minneapolis (ranked 11th) and Washington, D.C. (ranked 18th), among other places. Thumbtack describes itself as nonpartisan. Here are the cities that are friendliest to small businesses, according to those small-business owners.

Top Cities

1) Colorado Springs, Colo.

2) Boise, Idaho

3) Houston, Texas

4) Austin, Texas

5) Louisville, Ky.

Rounding out the top 10 are Dallas, TexasFort Worth, TexasSan Antonio, TexasNashville, Tenn.; andRichmond, Va.

Bottom Cities

82) Sacramento, Calif.

81) Providence, R.I.

80) Buffalo, N.Y.

79) Bridgeport, Conn.

78) San Diego, Calif.

The next five bottom cities are Worcester, Mass.Oxnard, Calif.; Newark, N.J.; Los Angeles, Calif.; and Pittsburgh, Penn.


Get daily news from Route Fifty

Top stories on how innovation is driving smarter government across the country.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.