Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

    Alabama is one of friendliest states for small business

    Southern charm, welcoming small communities and friendly citizens may make Alabama one of the top states in which to start a small business, according to a recent study by, a website designed to allow people to easily hire local help, like photographers, tutors or carpenters.

    To conduct its survey of the 6,000 businesses featured on the site, partnered with the Kauffman Foundation, a national organization that focuses on American entrepreneurship.

    According to the study, Alabama ranks among the top 10 states welcoming to small businesses. Central Alabama—which includes Tuscaloosa—ranked as the friendliest region of the state for small businesses, as well.

    Sander Daniels, co-founder of, said they decided to conduct the survey to really find out what was important to the small businesses they interact with every day.

    “For example, people always talk about tax rates when discussing business policy,” Daniels said. “But how important are tax rates to small businesses? Small businesses — both nationwide and in Alabama — told us that they actually care almost twice as much about professional licensing regulations as they do about tax rates and tax-related regulations.”

    The results show Alabama to receive an A- in overall friendliness and an A+ in various areas, such as regulations, health and safety and networking programs. Alabama’s lowest grade was a C+ in hiring costs.

    When told of Alabama’s rankings in the survey, many local small business owners did not seem surprised.

    “Honestly, I think it’s the sense of community that’s so welcoming to small business and the one-on-one interactions,” Mary Catherine Booth, owner of Sweets Cupcakes in downtown Tuscaloosa, said.

    Sweets Cupcakes will have been open for a year this month, and it is Booth’s first business. Booth says she would absolutely encourage someone to start a small business in Alabama.

    Gail Faulkner, owner of Chloe’s cup sees the upside to having her coffee shop of two years in a college town.

    “It’s been such a great experience with all the students,” Faulkner said. “They are so friendly and so nice.”

    Female entrepreneurs felt significantly better supported by the state than their male counterparts, according to the study. Women who owned small businesses were 33 percent more likely to rate Alabama as supportive or very supportive of small business.

    Tiffany Denson, the owner of T.Lish Dressings, Marinades and Sauces, says Alabama and her local community have been significant in the start of her business.

    “Yes, I believe that Alabama, my community in particular, has been very welcoming to starting a new business,” Denson said. “My local customers are extremely loyal and supportive. I have always said I was in the perfect place to start a business like this.”

    Denson started T.Lish out of her own kitchen and now sells her product at the Pants Store locations and various local grocery stores throughout Alabama.  The only downside she sees to being the owner of a small business in Alabama is the tax rules and regulations.

    “The obvious downsides are the additional state tax regulation on top of federal,” she said. “Honestly, it is just a major learning curve on my end to learn the additional rules and regulations.”

    Other factors surveyed were topics such as current economic health, optimism about the future and the growth rate last year. In all three, Alabama scored well, taking 24th in current economic health, 10th in optimism about the future and 5th in growth rate last year.

    Denson exemplifies such optimism, encouraging anyone to follow their dreams regardless of whether environment is perfect for it.

    “Of course, it is hard for me to speak outside the food industry, but if you have a quality product and the drive to succeed, then you must go for it. It never hurts to try.”

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