Survey Says Not All NH Counties Equally Small Business-Friendly


A new survey finds that perceptions of NH's small business-friendliness vary widely by region

If you’re looking for some of the happiest small business owners in the state, the Monadnock Region would be a good place to start.

Recently, we looked at how the Granite State stacks-up to the rest of the country in terms of its small business environment.  A survey of about 6,000 business owners released by the Kaufman Foundation and online hiring service finds that overall, New Hampshire does very well.  Respondents rate it well above the rest of the Northeast, and even much of the country:

“New Hampshire soared above its rivals in two categories where it excelled – the state achieved an A grade for being the #5 easiest state nationwide for starting a small business and for being the #8 friendliest state in the country towards small businesses.”

But the survey also finds that not all counties are created equal.

According to the small business owners who responded, Cheshire and Hillsborough counties were by far the friendliest.  The comments highlighted on the survey’s interactive map support that point.  Here’s a sampling from Hillsborough County:

“’We love New Hampshire! Starting our own business here was easy and affordable! We also do events all over New England and beyond!’—Disc Jockey and Photographer, Hillsborough County

‘Registering my business was fairly easy and inexpensive. I believe the taxes are pretty low, and I have been very busy. I have not found any training programs for my profession. It was easy to start my business.’—Gutter Installation, Hillsborough County

‘New Hampshire is very supportive to creating a favorable tax environment, but they tend to have a mostly hands-off approach as to assisting small business, in my opinion.’—Interior Decorator, Hillsborough County”

For its part, the Seacoast got middling marks, which is also reflected in some of the business owners’ ambivalent comments:

 “‘My experience is that it’s very hard to do legitimate business in my industry because of the dishonesty of venue owners, fueled by the constant micro management of the state liquor commission and health board as well as the failing economy.’—DJ Rockingham County

‘It isn’t necessarily complicated to do business, but getting up and running is tedious and time consuming.’—Insurance Broker, Strafford County”

Meanwhile, the rest of the state, ranging from the North Country down to the capital, rated “Worst” in the state for small business:

“’Statewide is very good; local government is very tough on new business development.’—Audio and Video Technician, Grafton County

‘I have been trying unsuccessfully to register my business with the state and also tried to form an LLC. Regardless of the paperwork done and the hoops I have to jump through, the state of NH adamantly refuses to allow me to register my name or incorporate my business. They have no problem taking my fees though!’—Mold Remediation, Belknap County

‘Just recently has net access been available all over NH! This has been a huge setback.’—Event Entertainer, Merrimack County”

Overall, the survey ranks New Hampshire the fifth in the country for ease of starting a small business.  And it places eighth in terms of overall small business-friendliness.  But when respondents are more subdued when it comes to the daily business grind.  While the Granite State ranks sixteenth for economic health, it’s only thirty-third for business growth.  And despite a relatively strong economic showing, New Hampshire ranks forty-fifth among states for optimism about the economy.

There’s a lot more information available on the survey, complete with an interactive state map we highly recommend you check out.


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