Tulare County may not be best place to start a business

Central Valley cities may have pro business policies but that doesn’t mean the environment is ideal for entrepreneurs and start-ups


TULARE COUNTY – Most would agree that Tulare County is business friendly, but how does its pro-business environment stack up with the rest of the nation? Not particularly well according to a new survey.

WalletHub, a personal finance web site offering analysis to consumers, compared the business-friendliness of more than 1,200 small-sized cities with populations between 25,000 and 100,000. The website used 18 key metrics ranging from average growth in number of small businesses to investor access to labor costs to determine.

Every small city offers unique advantages and disadvantages to new business owners. Some benefits include lower overhead costs, stronger relationships with customers and the potential to become a big fish in a little pond. But there are plenty of drawbacks, too. For one, entrepreneurs who want to build a large professional network aren’t likely to make as many connections in a town with fewer residents. Other restrictions might include limited industry options, a less diverse customer base, and difficulty attracting and keeping top talent.

Tulare and Porterville were ranked near the bottom of the list with overall scores of 39.6 and 38.6, respectively. Tulare’s highest rank (723) came in the low cost of doing business in the area but it scores for business environment and access to resources were both over 900. Porterville was in the top half of small cities for access to resources and just outside the top half for costs but received one of the lowest ranks (1207) in terms of business environment, which looks at the variety of industries, growth in new business and startups, as well as the five-year survival rate for businesses.

The only small city in the Valley to rank in the top half of the survey was Merced, which came in at #600 followed by Madera at #679.

Americans are born with an entrepreneurial streak. It’s in our DNA. From the Gold Rush to the Industrial Revolution to the Internet Age, intense periods of innovation have molded our economy and sparked important societal advancements.

Today, more than 15.3 million people in the U.S., or nearly 10 percent of the labor force, work for themselves. And there is always room in the market for new ideas, products, services and multi-million-dollar success stories — if one knows where to look.

Visalia, Tulare County’s largest city, didn’t crack the list of top 100 business-friendly large cities. The only Valley cities to make that list were Fresno and Bakersfield. Fresno ranked 45th on the list with an overall score of 50.43. Fresno was 42nd in terms of “Business Costs,” a category defined by office-space affordability, labor costs, corporate taxes, and the cost of living. Fresno was 64th in the “Business Environment” category measuring length of average work week, average growth in number of small businesses, startups per capita, average growth of business revenues, five-year business-survival rate, industry variety, and job growth. Bakersfield was ranked higher (46) in Business Environment and lower in Business Costs, but was significantly lower (81) in the Access to Resources category, defined by financing accessibility, venture investment, prevalence of investors, human capital, high education, college-educated population, and working-age population.

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