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April 05. 2013 11:06PM

NH rated A+ for launching a business

New Hampshire is one of the best states in the nation when it comes to launching a new business, according to the annual survey of small business owners by Thumbtack.com, a national online business directory that matches up consumers with service providers who then bid for the job.

The state scored an A-plus and ranked third overall for its friendliness for small businesses. Only four states in the country earned the A-plus rating, and New Hampshire had the highest grade in New England. The A-plus for the state was a step up over last year's "A" grade.

Last year, New Hampshire ranked fifth in the nation for ease in starting a business; this year, it rose to second place, behind Idaho. New Hampshire also ranked third for the overall business-friendliness of its tax code and the ease of understanding and filing taxes.

The 2013 study, the second conducted by the Kauffman Foundation for Thumbtack, draws upon data from more than 7,000 small-business owners nationwide who responded to the survey.

The survey takes into account things like the ease of starting a business, the ease of hiring and the nature of zoning regulations. In those three categories, New Hampshire was ranked "A" or A-plus. The lowest score New Hampshire received was a "B" for training and networking programs.

"This is a very respectable report card for New Hampshire," said Jeffrey Rose, commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development. "The high marks reflect the state's commitment to maintaining an environment that encourages businesses and their employees to succeed."

Utah was the top-rated state, and Austin, Texas, was the top-rated city. At the other end of the spectrum, Rhode Island and Newark, N.J., were the lowest rated state and city.

The ease of obtaining health insurance was an important factor in the national results. One-third of small-business owners nationally rated obtaining and keeping health insurance as "very difficult," versus only 6 percent who rated it "very easy."

dsolomon@unionleader.com