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Survey: Small Business Owners Give Tampa Bay a 'C' Grade


So, you wanna start a business?

Tampa Bay may not be the best place to do so, but it isn't the worst, either. That's according to Thumbtack.com, an online marketplace that matches consumers with local services.

This week, the website released the results of its second-annual Small Business Friendliness Survey, which asked nearly 8,000 entrepreneurs nationwide to rank cities on criteria like zoning regulations, tax code fairness and the overall ease of starting a new business.

Here's the takeaway:

  • Florida's overall grade: C-minus. Although the Sunshine State dropped slightly from its 'C' grade last year, its tax code earned a 'B+." Florida also scored a 'B' for the ease of hiring additional employees.
  • Tampa Bay's overall grade: C. This puts the Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater area ahead of Miami, behind Jacksonville and slightly below the nationwide average. On the upside, Tampa earned a 'B' for its regulatory systems and a 'B' for its small business training and networking programs.

We emailed Thumbtack co-founder Sander Daniels what Tampa Bay can do to make the grade next year. Here's his advice:

"Regarding how Tampa can improve its ranking, our research indicates that clear regulations and relevant training programs are two of the most important factors for how businesses view their area. This doesn't necessitate getting rid of regulations (though in some cases this might be beneficial). Making compliance easier and faster can make a big difference and can be accomplished through allowing more services (registration, payment, etc.) to be performed online rather than having to physically go to an office and providing clear guides to help with the process. In the medium to long term, one of the most beneficial policies to pursue is eliminating overlapping licensing and permitting regimes, both within the city and between different jurisdictions (city, county, state)."

To see the detail results and read comments from entrepreneurs who took part in the survey, check out thumbtack.com/fl/tampa.

"I host a food podcast" is a great icebreaker at parties.