Small businesses in Colorado Springs have reason to celebrate, according to a recent survey.
New data compiled by the online consumer service Thumbtack and the Kauffman Foundation identified the Springs as the city friendliest to small business out of 82 cities in a nationwide survey. Nearly 13,000 small-business owners in 38 states responded to the survey and assigned letter grades to a number of facets of their cities' business climates.
Most respondents operated in the service sector and weighed in on the ease of starting and maintaining a business in their area. About 500 respondents evaluated cities in Colorado.
It wasn't a scientific survey: Thumbtack made the survey available to business owners who had used its website to solicit customers. But Dane Stangler, vice president of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation, said it's still relevant.
"It's unique in the sense that a lot of indices and rankings that try to compare cities and regions use other criteria and don't actually ask the entrepreneurs," Stangler said Monday after the survey results were released.
The survey captures the opinion of only a small portion of small-business owners in Colorado Springs. According to Reference USA, a business and consumer research database, Colorado Springs has about 65,600 businesses that employ 20 people or fewer.
Aikta Marcoulier, director of the Colorado Springs Small Business Development Center, acknowledged the inherent limitations of survey statistics.
"With statistics, you have to understand what they're based off of and whether you want to use them to generalize," she said. "What this survey does show is that we are working very hard to be more business friendly and that those who did answer have great things to say about the Springs."
Bob Cope, principal analyst for the economic development division of the city of Colorado Springs, said Mayor Steve Bach's effort to make the area more business-friendly has had a distinct effect on his co-workers.
"We're making every effort to have faster turnaround times, reasonable regulations and reasonable taxes and fees," Cope said. "We're seeing continuous improvement in the culture here by seeing ourselves as a customer service rather than a regulatory organization."
Ksenia Kologrieva, president and founder of Cloudberry Language School, moved her business from Chicago to Colorado Springs two years ago. She said she had an easier time establishing herself in Colorado than she did in Illinois.
"I find it is quite friendly for small business here because the competition is not as big as it is in large cities," she said. "It terms of market and demand, I feel like I can do much more here and compete in a nicer environment."
Since starting in the Springs, Kologrieva has employed four full-time language teachers and established a network of translators. Cloudberry now serves clients in 23 states.
Kologrieva partially attributes her success to the resources available to small businesses in the area.
"In Illinois, I knew only one small business specialist," she said. "It's much easier to reach them here. They provide more helpful information, and they're much faster."