Bringing the Economy Home

Small Business Owners Rank Idaho ‘Friendliest’ State

Idaho, Texas, Oklahoma and Utah are among the friendliest states for small businesses.

A new survey out today from, an online job service, and the Kauffman Foundation finds Idaho, Texas, Oklahoma and Utah are the friendliest states for small businesses.

The survey asked more than 6,000 small business owners to rank states based on ease of starting a new businesses, cost of hiring, regulatory friendliness, tax code friendliness, and publicity of training programs.  Most of the business owners surveyed — 90 percent — had fewer than five employees.

Thirty-seven small business owners in Idaho responded to the survey.

Idaho scored an A+ in every category with the exception of hiring costs.  Small business owners gave the state a D in that category.

Sander Daniels is co-founder of  He says the hiring cost metric doesn’t just include a new employee’s salary (wages in Idaho are among the lowest in the nation.) It also takes into account the regulatory cost of hiring.

Key findings from the survey include:

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  • Small businesses said licensing requirements were nearly twice as important as tax rates in determining their state or city government’s overall business-friendliness.
  • An important predictor of small business friendliness was whether small business owners are aware of the state or local government offering training programs for small businesses.
  • Among small business owners nationally, women were 9 percent more likely than men to feel supported by their state governments.
  • Idaho small businesses are among the top ten healthiest nationwide, falling in third place in the West for current economic health.
  • Idaho’s businesses rank 7th nationwide in their optimism about their future economic health.  –

“For small businesses looking for a place to hang a shingle or to plant a flag, they can’t do much better than Idaho,” says Daniels. “It was pretty clear reading through the comments.  They were overwhelmingly positive, which is unusual for any state.”

Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce spokesman Adam Bartelmay says positive business rankings are always a good thing.  “I think that speaks well for Idaho as we try to grow our economy,” Bartelmay says.  “People will look at Idaho as a great place to do business.  Anything that comes out like this certainly bodes well for Idaho.”

Some of the responses from small business owners are included on this interactive map.

“Starting a business in these times can be a risk but one that can be rewarding. Idaho makes it very easy to start a business, and each office has, so far, been available to answer any questions I’ve had so far.”

– Interior designer, Blaine County

“It is pretty easy to get a small business going in Idaho, but the regulations need to be enforced. I see a lot of folks who are advertising and are not licensed as a contractor, and are licensed only as an apprentice or journeyman, which is supposedly illegal but is not too tightly enforced.”

– Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician, Canyon County

California, Hawaii, Vermont, and Rhode Island were ranked least-friendly by small business owners surveyed.

What do you think? Does Idaho deserve its A+ for small business friendliness?


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