SmartAsset, a leading online financial advisory portal, recently ranked Washington County fifth among Ohio counties for small businesses.
“We hope this study will give people some local context on the presence of small businesses in their community,” said Alyssa Annunziato, senior public relations associate. “This study specifically shows the locations in each state where small business is most prevalent, as well as the counties with the highest total small business income.”
She said to determine the best spots, her study measured three factors — the proportion of people in a county with small business income, reported business income, and the amount of tax a potential resident would have to pay on their income.
“To determine how attractive a region is to small business owners, we compared the number of tax returns showing small business income to the total number of taxpayers in the region.” She said. “Next, we compared the total amount of small business income to the total amount of income reported in each region.”
The three factors were then indexed and weighted equally to produce her Small Business Index, she said. Places with the highest Small Business Index are the places that performed best in the study.
Washington County Commissioner Kevin Ritter said the county is an excellent location for small businesses for several reasons.
“A ready workforce, a top-rated career center, a top-rated community college, relatively inexpensive real estate, convenient proximity to several major markets, and a low cost of living.” he said.
He said both Washington State Community College and the Washington County Career Center have flexibility in designing programs based on workforce needs.
“They are doing a great job with Marietta College training young people for local jobs,” said Knight. “For small businesses looking to buy land or a building, the cost here is much cheaper than in more urban areas. If they want to attract talent, our relatively low cost of living can be very attractive.”
Southeastern Ohio Port Authority director Jesse Roush said he thinks fifth place is driven by two things.
“First, our county is home to a world-class workforce, and that includes our small business owners,” he said. “Our county’s business leaders are innovative and hardworking, making Washington County home to several unique companies, many of which compete for market share on a global scale.”
Roush said when a hard-working business owner builds a great workforce, it’s a recipe for success, and dozens of small businesses across the county are doing well.
Roush believes the second reason for the ranking is the county’s robust resource network.
“We have great educational institutions that train our employees. Several non-profit organizations in the region provide business-critical support to organizations in a variety of ways,” he said. “And from the commissioners, to the mayors and aldermen, to the district engineer, the building department, the Small Business Development Center and many more, multiple public sector organizations are working together to ensure our business community thrives.”
Roush said the county’s business ecosystem is second to none and that’s why it’s home to so many great small businesses.
Washington County wasn’t the only county in the region to make the top 10 in Ohio. Meigs County was listed in seventh place while Monroe was eighth.
The study was conducted in all 50 states. Four local West Virginia counties made the top 10: Pleasants County at number five, Jackson County at number seven, Calhoun County at number eight, and Tyler County at number 10.
Michele Newbanks can be reached at [email protected]