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For Small Business Friendliness, Fort Collins Tops Denver

Aaron Olaf
Flickr - Creative Commons

Fort Collins and the rest of the Front Range are no strangers to ranking high in economic development. A new survey places the city as the second highest in the nation when it comes to hiring new workers. Colorado Springs also received high rankings, but Denver’s reputation is faltering.

Over 12,000 small business owners nationwide were asked about the ease of running a small business, hiring new employees, state and local regulations, taxes, and networking., an organization that connects consumers with local businesses, conducts the survey annually. The Kaufman Foundation partnered with for the 2014 survey. 

The state of Colorado received its highest ranking with ease of hiring. Small business owners gave the state an A for that category. The Centennial State came in at 8th place overall for small business friendliness right after Kansas. That ranking remained constant for 2013 and 2014, with a marked improvement from 2012. For 2014, Utah topped the charts as the best small business climate in the country.

Government regulation was not viewed so favorably by small business owners based here. When it comes to state and local restrictions on labor and zoning restrictions, Colorado received a C grade for both categories

Denver ranked low with these restrictions as well. Fort Collins’ high ranking nationally had more favorable views with government regulations. The only low marks were in tax code laws and what business owners feel to be limited government involvement with training and networking programs.

Small business owners in Fort Collins also led the nation in stating they were taxed fairly. Only 17 percent of those surveyed said they paid too much. 

Colorado Springs received an A or A+ for every single category, making it the 4th most favorable small business climate nationwide. In 2013 the city received only one B+ for training programs. In 2012, the city also received nearly all A grades with one exception, an F in hiring costs. 

While Denver’s image gradually improved in previous years, 2014 revealed a drop in its small business friendly image from an A- to a B+. While the city’s reputation dropped, Denver still ranks significantly higher than Albuquerque. That city also saw a decline in small business friendliness, but with a much lower grade of a C.

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