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National survey shows Commonwealth is the most improved state in supporting entrepreneurs

Kentucky Unbridled SpiritFRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear has placed a tremendous emphasis on supporting Kentucky’s small businesses. A new national survey indicates those efforts are paying off.

Thumbtack.com, in conjunction with the Kauffman Foundation, has given the Commonwealth an “A” rating in its annual Small Business Friendliness Survey. Kentucky scored a “B-minus” last year, making the Commonwealth the most improved state in the small business survey.

“Kentucky recognizes that small businesses are the backbone of our economy,” said Gov. Beshear. “That’s why we’ve focused on developing innovative programs and offering dynamic services to help these growing companies every step of the way. It’s no surprise we’re producing great results.”

Thumbtack.com surveyed more than 12,000 small businesses across the United States. The survey asked questions about the friendliness of states and cities toward small business, such as: “In general, how would you rate your state’s support of small business owners?” and “Would you discourage or encourage someone from starting a new business where you live?”

“Creating a business climate that is welcoming to small, dynamic businesses is more important than ever, but rarely does anyone ask small business owners themselves about what makes for a pro-entrepreneur environment,” said Jon Lieber, chief economist of Thumbtack.com. “Thousands of small business owners across the country told us that the keys to a pro-growth environment are ease of compliance with tax and regulatory systems and helpful training programs.”

To assist Kentucky’s small businesses, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development created the Office of Entrepreneurship last year to enhance the state’s existing efforts to help businesses at every step of the growth cycle. The goals of the Office of Entrepreneurship are to develop an entrepreneurial climate in Kentucky, provide guidance and support to startups and assist existing small businesses with growth opportunities.

The Office of Entrepreneurship guides the Cabinet’s extensive resources for small and new businesses, as well as innovative and high-tech companies by offering a lifecycle of services. Assistance can range from funding initiatives, marketing and sales assistance, small business advocacy and resource referrals, along with a variety of financial and incentive programs to encourage investment and job growth. All services are provided free of charge.

The office also oversees the Kentucky Innovation Network, a statewide network of 13 offices which helps entrepreneurs at any stage – whether it is just starting with an idea to already having an established business – and works with them to plan, build and launch their business.

“Last year, the Office of Entrepreneurship supported more than 2,000 small businesses, and that number is growing,” said Mandy Lambert, commissioner of business development in the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. “Not only are we seeing more and more startup companies getting off the ground and small businesses growing, we’re also helping more people gain exposure to the possibilities of becoming an entrepreneur.”

Since Senate Bill 8 passed in 2011, the Secretary of State and every agency of the Executive Branch have collaborated to develop a One-Stop business portal that will allow business owners to access information, forms and other vital documentation that can ease the frustration and burden that small business owners sometimes feel when trying to navigate the critical steps to operating a business. Eventually, this will be a means of communicating with any agency of state government, paying fees or taxes and applying for assistance all through the same portal.

In addition to the Commonwealth’s small business friendliness ranking, The Kauffman Foundation Index places Kentucky fifth in the nation for entrepreneurial activity over the past two years. Also, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Kentucky ranks first among all states for percentage growth of new business establishments.

Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion on Facebook or follow on Twitter. Watch the Cabinet’s “This is My Kentucky” video on YouTube