Small business owner Summer Allen works at her store, Valentine Shoe, in Bangor in this BDN file photo. A national survey of small business owners by the website Thumbtack gave Maine a grade of A-plus for small business friendliness in 2017, a big jump from the F grade the state received in 2013. Credit: Micky Bedell | BDN

In at least one ranking of states’ small business friendliness, Maine has made huge gains in just four years.

The website Thumbtack, which matches customers with nearby service providers and local professionals, regularly surveys thousands of small business owners nationwide on their satisfaction with their home states.

In 2013, the website, based on feedback from those small business owners, gave Maine a grade of F and placement among the worst states in America in terms of small business friendliness. This year? Maine was given a grade of A-plus and came in at No. 5 overall out of 50 states.

“The small business owners we heard from in Maine were 5 percent more positive about their state’s support for small businesses than the national average, leading to their A-plus grade overall,” said Thumbtack economist Lucas Puente in a statement. “And compared to nearby states, such as New Hampshire (which received an A grade) and Vermont (A-minus), Maine did generally better.”

Maine saw particular improvements in the categories of “Ease of starting a small business,” in which the state’s grade jumped from a D-plus to an A over the last four years, and “Training and networking programs,” in which the grade went up from a C to an A-plus.

Thumbtack bills its report as being based on the largest survey of its kind in the country, which allows small business owners to rank their states on a range of categories including taxes, licensing regulations, labor relations and environmental rules. The survey also has open-ended questions that allow for respondents to explain how they feel about the business environment.

In the 2017 list, Maine finished just behind Wyoming, Delaware, Idaho and Louisiana.

The last for which Thumbtack posted survey results for Maine was 2013. The previous year, in 2012, Maine was given a grade of D-plus.

Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.