Pensacola lags way behind on ‘Best Small Cities to Start a Business’

April 17, 2017

With National Small Business Week approaching, the personal-finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2017’s Best Small Cities to Start a Business.

To determine the most business-friendly small markets in the U.S., WalletHub’s analysts compared more than 1,200 small-sized cities across 16 key metrics. The data set ranges from average growth in number of small businesses to investor access to labor costs.

Holland, MI topped the list with a total score of 50.22. The City of Pensacola placed 382 with a 41.15. The killers for Pensacola were Business Environment (897) and Access to Resources (477).

Area small cities that were ranked higher than Pensacola include Dothan, AL (#31), Gulfport, MS (#265), Hattiesburg, MS (325), and Biloxi, MS (357).

Business Environment [Total Points 50] included:

Average Length of Work Week (in Hours): Full Weight (~8.33 Points)

Average Growth in Number of Small Businesses: Full Weight (~8.33 Points)

Number of Startups per Capita: Full Weight (~8.33 Points)

Average Revenue per Business: Full Weight (~8.33 Points)

Average Growth of Business Revenues: Full Weight (~8.33 Points)

Industry Variety: Full Weight (~8.33 Points)

Access to Resources [Total Points: 25] included
Financing Accessibility: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Total Annual Value of Small-Business Loans / Total Number of Small Businesses

Investor Access: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)

Human-Resource Availability: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Number of Unemployed Residents – Number of Job Openings

Higher-Education Assets: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: This metric measures the average university rank (based on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges Rankings) and number of students enrolled per 1,000 Residents.

Workforce Educational Attainment: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: This metric measures the percentage of the population with at least a bachelor’s degree.

Working-Age Population Growth: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: “Working-Age Population” includes those aged 16 to 64.

Business Costs [Total Points: 25] included:

Office-Space Affordability: Full Weight (~6.25 Points)
Note: This metric measures the per-square-foot cost of commercial office space.

Labor Costs: Full Weight (~6.25 Points)
Note: This metric measures the median annual income.

Corporate Taxes: Full* Weight (~6.25 Points)
Note: Data for this metric were available only at the state level.

Cost of Living: Full Weight (~6.25 Points)

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  • CJ Lewis April 17, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    When I ran for mayor in 2008, several small business owners told me that city hall had a “friends” list and an “enemies” list. If the people in city hall liked you, they could do all they could to help you to include, as I later found out, ignore state or city laws if they were inconvenient. On the other hand, if you were on the “enemies” list, you were screwed. It was not necessary anything entirely personal. As one example, several years later, in 2011 or 2012, I heard a story about how Mayor Hayward wanted to run a business out of the city, a business that I liked, that seemed very successful and providing a living for many. I met with the owner and was shocked at what I was told. I called city staff and was told “off-the-record” that Mayor Hayward had instructed city staff that he did not want this type of business in “his” city. Perhaps when Hayward is gone from the scene the business will expand as it then wanted to do. I think one other problem is that there is no non-governmental business group that is focused on the city, i.e. Pensacola “City.” Several years ago, I was talking to a business owner in Milton who told me that they would have preferred to have their business inside Pensacola City Limits and in an area where there would be enough foot traffic. (The business eventually failed in Downtown Milton because those streets are often devoid of foot traffic.) The business owner told me how no one with the city or the chamber wanted to help them because they were such a small business, the owner telling me that she moved here from Maine because she wanted to be in a warmer place and liked the way “Pensacola” rolled off her lips. I have no idea where the so-called “Greater Pensacola” of the “Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce” is located. I also have no idea why the Pensacola City Council would think it smart to adopt a city law creating a new so-called “Pensacola Regional Area” that extends from Mobile to Walton County to better spread out city contracts. No one seems focused on “Pensacola,” or Escambia County. When Commissioner Valentino proposed working with VT MAE to give priority in the hiring process to Escambia County residents, Commissioner Robertson said he did not care if the VT MAE workforce lived in Santa Rosa County and Commissioner Robinson said he did not care if they lived in Baldwin County. Mayor Hayward pressured Valentino to withdraw his motion. The bad consequences of no one caring about “local” jobs for “local” people is easy enough to see in high unemployment, high poverty and high crime.