FORSYTH COUNTY -- A national study brought good news for small businesses in the north metro Atlanta area.
Thumbtack, a website that connects professionals and customers, recently released a survey ranking Georgia as the fourth most small business-friendly state and Atlanta as the 10th for cities for 2016.
James McCoy, president of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, said there were a few reasons for the good grade.
“We have a great tax structure overall in Georgia,” McCoy said. “I think there is a great employment base here, particularly in metro Atlanta, of very talented and creative people that fuel the growth of small businesses.”
The study surveyed 12,000 small businesses across 35 states and 78 cities.
Georgia finished behind Texas, Utah and Tennessee and ahead of Colorado.
Atlanta joined Austin, Boston, Minneapolis and San Francisco as cities that had in-depth case studies performed – Atlanta finished with the best ranking from those cities.
As part of the study, responders gave a letter grade to categories such as regulations, health and safety, zoning and tax code.
Georgia earned an A-plus ranking for licensing requirements and was 24 percent higher than the national average. Of those polled, 41 percent of Georgians felt the tax rate was too high, which was 16 percent fewer than the national average.
McCoy said business friendliness extends to Forsyth County.
“I think you’ll find there is an overall very positive ecosystem from a regulatory standpoint,” McCoy said. “We are a particularly business-friendly community, and there are some really impressive networks of people out there that support [businesses].”
Tim Campbell, of Big Frog Custom T-Shirts and More, has a store within the city of Cumming and recently opened a new location in south Forsyth. He said the chamber was helpful in dealing with some aspects of the opening.
“What I didn’t realize until we were out here, and I was bound and determined to stay in Forsyth County, was I had to start over because this is Forsyth County, so it’s a different group of people,” he said. “That made it a little more difficult, but we made it through it, and people were great and helpful.”
Campbell said the county is “definitely friendly toward small business,” but there was something he’d like to see.
“What I think we lack here is… we don’t have a ‘buy local, support local’ business initiative as a county,” he said. “That’s something I think we lack in Forsyth County that I’d like to see us really push toward rekindling.”
Georgia nearly had straight As, but earned a B-plus for ease of hiring and C-minus for training and networking. Campbell didn’t agree with the low grade.
“Actually our networking, whether it’s through the chamber or other networking groups… is very strong,” he said.
McCoy called the training and networking grade surprising but said the networking side could possibly be explained.
“It may be indicative of a problem that we face a great deal, and that is small business owners are incredibly busy running their business, and those are activities that many may view as more of a luxury and less of necessity,” McCoy said. “They may have the perception that those opportunities are not there, when in reality they don’t have time to take advantage of what is there.”