Positives and room for improvement for KS in small biz-friendliness survey

WICHITA, Kansas - The state was in the top half of states when it comes to small-business friendliness, according to a new survey.

Kansas earned an overall B grade for friendliness to small business, which was where experts KSN spoke to expected the state to rank.

The Labor Party in Old Town might be ground zero in Wichita for small business startups, where people try to get their business ideas off the ground. And they know the challenges, including finding good workers.

“There’s just a skills gap there,” Kenton Hansen, The Labor Party’s founder, which is a co-working space in Wichita, said. “I think addressing those skills gaps is going to make Kansas and Wichita both a better place to start a business more easy for sure.”

That was one of the spots where Kansas lagged behind other states in the Thumbtack and Ewing Marion Kauffmann Foundation survey, earning a D grade in the ease of finding qualified workers.

“We have good schools, but just not supplying enough people, so that makes the labor market a little tight,” Jeremy Hill, director of the WSU Center for Economic Development & Business Research, said. “You might have good ideas, good businesses, but if you can’t get labor to move here, then it makes it more difficult to really run a business.”

Another area for improvement was a C+ for the ease of starting a small business. But business experts say there are resources available.

“I think there really are a lot of good services in this state,” Hill said. “There could be some more efforts and some more resources available, especially to specific groups, maybe for minority-owned businesses or things like that, but I’m not so sure that’s something to be concerned from this survey.”

According to the survey, Kansas got top marks in the nation in the areas of licensing, zoning and labor laws, and also got “A” grades for environmental, tax and health regulations.

“Wichita has a great way of taking accepted industry practices and flipping them on their head to create a new start-up and a new economic shift,” Hansen said.

The survey also found that Kansas small business owners were the most optimistic in the country when it comes to hiring in the next 12 months, as well as claiming to be the most prepared for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Click here to view the survey results.

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