FARMINGTON — A national survey recently awarded New Mexico a D+ for its small business friendliness, but some local business owners don't agree with the grade.
The grade comes from Thumbtack.com, which on Monday released results from a survey of more than 12,000 business owners. The website partnered with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to compile the data.
"Creating a business climate that is welcoming to small, dynamic businesses is more important than ever, and New Mexico isn't quite there yet," said Jon Lieber, chief economist for Thumbtack.com.
He said the website wants to call attention to state policies that might hinder the success of small businesses.
Lieber said the state's grade was based on three areas: New Mexico's business friendliness, how easy it is to start business in the state and whether business owners would recommend starting a business here.
"Starting a business was the worst grade," Lieber said.
The survey graded New Mexico in several different categories, including business start-up ease, tax codes, zoning and networking and training programs to help new businesses.
New Mexico fared well with training and networking programs, receiving an A, according to the survey.
"The training and networking programs are really valued by small businesses," Lieber said. "I think that A grade is a really good sign for New Mexico in general."
For business owners to participate in the survey, they had to be active users of Thumbtack.com, a networking website for consumers and professionals. Only 43 businesses in the state participated in the survey, Lieber said.
This is the third year the website has conducted the survey, and Lieber expects the survey to continue on an annual basis.
Despite the survey's results, two local business owners say they had a different experience when opening their companies.
Tammy Simpson opened her Farmington retail store, Celebrations Party Store and More, in May. She said the most difficult part of opening her own business was finding a suitable location.
She said getting a Combined Reporting System number and obtaining a business license was simple, though time consuming. While that process took about two weeks, Simpson said, finding a location took three months. She noted online applications increase the efficiency of the entire process.
In January, Mike Fauteaux opened cellphone repair shop Cell Doctors in Farmington. He says his experience opening businesses in New Mexico has been excellent.
Fauteaux previously owned a laser print repair shop in San Diego and recently expanded his cellphone repair store to Durango, Colo.
"My experience has been exceptionally easier," he said, of the process in New Mexico compared to that in California and Colorado.
He said he obtained a business license and other documents to open a business in New Mexico within days. But in California, he had to manually research business names to make sure a name wasn't registered to another business before he could begin the application process. In New Mexico, the process is automated through a database on a state website.
In addition, Fauteaux said the tax structure is simpler in New Mexico. For his new store in Durango, he said he has to pay a city, county and state tax. But, he said, New Mexico's taxing structure is easier to work with.
"I don't see how you can get any easier than you can get in New Mexico," Fauteaux said.Erny Zah is The Daily Times business editor. He can be reached at 505-564-4638.and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @ernyzah on Twitter.