PROVIDENCE, RI – Rhode Island was recently ranked second in the nation in a Thumbtack survey of small business friendliness, a recognition applauded by Lt. Governor Dan McKee who serves as Chair of the state's Small Business Advocacy Council.
Thumbtack, a national online service that connects small businesses with potential customers, conducts an annual survey of its members on their perception of small business friendliness in government. This year, the survey focused entirely on small business perception on how governments responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Small business owners gave scaled feedback on a series of questions and states with the highest average received an "A+" while those with the lowest average received an "F."
Rhode Island's No. 2 ranking and corresponding "A" score were determined by data from a July survey of over 2,400 small business owners across 45 states and the District of Columbia. According to Thumbtack, the survey questions focused on government response to COVID-19; duration of stay at home orders and priorities of states when issuing COVID-19 guidance and programs and how the pandemic impacted the respondent's business.
In previous years dating back to 2012, Rhode Island received a series of low scores on Thumbtack's survey ranging from several "Fs" to "D+," an issue that caught the Lt. Governor's attention and prompted him to contact the company to learn how the state could improve.
In 2015, 2016 and 2018, Lt. Governor McKee convened Thumbtack executives, local small business survey respondents and representatives from Rhode Island Commerce, the Department of Business Regulation and other state agencies at listening sessions to strategize on raising Rhode Island's small business friendliness score. Sessions involved both communicating existing resources to small businesses and receiving feedback on regulatory and legislative changes necessary to move the state forward.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Lt. Governor's small business efforts have shifted to connecting businesses with the COVID-19 resources they need from the state and federal governments. Most notably, the Lt. Governor hosts weekly Small Business Virtual Town Hall Meetings on Facebook live which give local business owners direct access to department heads at the Small Business Administration, Department of Business Regulation, Department of Labor and Training and others.
"From hosting dozens of small business town hall meetings to partnering with the Rhode Island Small Business Coalition on organizing hundreds of small businesses around important issues, we have made small business advocacy and pandemic recovery a priority in the Lt. Governor's Office," said Lt. Governor McKee. "We know there is still much more to do to help our small businesses recover from this pandemic, but Thumbtack's 'A' rating signifies positive momentum that my team is proud to be a part of. We will continue working with other state agencies to highlight the importance of considering small business friendliness in all that we do in government. This includes urging the state to allocate $75M in additional grant funds for small businesses and advocating for a state and SBA guaranteed loan program. Our small business community deserves no less."
Lt. Governor McKee also applauded the efforts of the newly formed Rhode Island Small Business Coalition, a grassroots advocacy group of small businesses owners who are working with the Lt. Governor's Office to raise awareness about the needs of small businesses. The Lt. Governor pointed to several small business friendly initiatives the coalition helped start including Gift it Forward, an online gift card database of small businesses selling gift cards during the pandemic, and a multimedia campaign encouraging Rhode Islanders to shop small to help the local economy.
"Our small businesses make up over 90 percent of all businesses here in Rhode Island and we knew we had to act swiftly and collectively to survive the economic crisis the pandemic created," said Chris Parisi, Founder of Trailblaze Marketing and Co-Founder of the Rhode Island Small Business Coalition. "We're proud to see Thumbtack's 'A' rating, knowing our advocacy helped create programs and grants to support our small business community through this crisis. We couldn't have done it without the Lt. Governor's leadership; he's been fighting for our small businesses from the start. We look forward to working with the Lt. Governor's Office further as there is still more work to be done."
"The Rhode Island Small Business Coalition formed in direct response to COVID-19's devastating impact on the small business community. Our main priority continues to be elevating the voice of small businesses and ensuring we have a seat at the table," said Jennifer Ortiz, Owner of Executive Cuts and Rhode Island Small Business Coalition member. "It is encouraging to see Rhode Island recognized for its small business efforts during the pandemic, but we know there is a long road ahead. As a coalition, we are committed to continuing to work with state government to advocate for additional support and resources for small businesses in need."
To view the full survey published by Thumbtack, please click here [r20.rs6.net].