Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville 'Improved' for Small Business; 93 Percent of Firms in Duval Have 50 Workers or Fewer, UNF Director Says

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville 'Improved' for Small Business; 93 Percent of Firms in Duval Have 50 Workers or Fewer, UNF Director Says

Article excerpt

Byline: Drew Dixon

Jacksonville got a "B" grade for its small business friendliness and is the 32nd best city in the United States to have a small business, according to Thumbtack.com, a business monitoring website.

Thumbtack said in a statement Tuesday that about 18,000 small businesses took part in the survey, 133 from Jacksonville and more than 1,700 small businesses from Florida. Thumbtack gave Jacksonville credit for improving its small business environment in the recent years.

"Jacksonville has steadily improved over the past few years, from a C- in 2012 to a B in 2015," the news release said.

Carlton Robinson, senior director of entrepreneurial growth at JAX Chamber, said obviously Jacksonville isn't at the top of the Thumbtack list, but this year's ranking is a sign of improvement.

"Obviously, being at the top of half of the list, at a minimum, is good recognition for us," Robinson said Tuesday. "Compared to where we started, we're making progress."

Janice Donaldson, regional director for the Florida Small Business Development Center at University of North Florida, said the ranking comes after concerted efforts in the area to foster a more friendly environment for small businesses. She added there are more than 23,800 businesses in Duval County with 93 percent of those employing less than 50 workers each.

"I think that the government and the private sector have worked very hard to make it more attractive to start a business or to relocate a business or grow a business," Donaldson said.

Among the areas that help foster small business was a relatively loose tax regulation structure in the city. Thumbtack gave Jacksonville an A- in that category.

On the flip side, Thumbtack officials said it's not easy to get a job at a small business in Jacksonville. They gave Jacksonville a C for ease of hiring.

As of now, the small business and entrepreneurial community in Jacksonville is a very tight-knit ecosystem, Robinson said. Many are run by family members. Others, such as technology firms, do not cast a wide net for potential hires, which contributes to the perception that it's hard to get a small business job in Jacksonville.

"It's a sign of a changing workforce," Robinson said. …

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