Business survey doesn’t tell whole story, say officials

Published Apr 19, 2017 at 4:03pm

A new analysis of small-sized cities nationwide ranked Rome 710th and Utica 744 out of 1,261 when it comes to the best places to start a business. WalletHub tallied up factors for business environment, access to resources and business costs to determine the rankings.

The City and the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce issued a joint statement concerning the survey.

First, Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo and chamber President William K. Guglielmo noted that Rome’s population of 32,000 puts it on the low end of the study, which covers cities with populations ranging from 25,000 to 100,000.

“We are unclear as to the methodology used to determine the rankings so it is hard for us to quantify these findings and to determine whether we agree or disagree with the survey samplings,” the statement noted.

“Looking at the 16 types of metrics used in the survey, the findings indicate just a portion of the total picture.”

The mayor and director said that when someone considers starting a business, other factors come into play, such as: low crime rate, central location, proximity to market, space available at competitive prices, air quality and plentiful and quality water, higher education offerings, access to health care, usable land space, average commute time, cost of housing and recreation for all four seasons.

“The Chamber and the City are staunch advocates for our community,” the joint statement noted.

“We will continue to sell our community’s assets which includes a modern, progressive school system, quality health care, a diversified retail base, a great parks and recreation system including waterfront opportunities at Lake Delta and the canal, a supportive environment to start and maintain a business, a safe community with low crime rates and a wonderful quality of life.”

They noted that a resident of Florida came to the chamber office earlier this week asking for information about expanding his business to Rome.

“We began the process of assisting him to locate his business here in Rome.”

The statement concluded: “Over the course of the last year, we have seen surveys which have depicted the City of Rome in the positive and the negative. Our focus is to grow our community both from a commercial as well as residential standpoint, and we prefer to work toward that goal.”

WalletHub used 16 metrics ranges from average growth in number of small businesses to investor access to labor costs.

Tops in New York State were Irondequoit at 11th and Tonawanda at 14th.

Rome’s score was 38.19. It ranked 955th for business environment, 1,126th for access to resources and 295th for business costs.

Utica, meanwhile, scored 37.93. It was ranked 1,156, 811 and 227, respectively in the above categories.

Half of the points were from the business environment. It weighed average length of work week, average growth in the number of small businesses, the number of startups per capita, the average revenue per business, average growth of business revenues and industry variety.

A quarter of the points went to factors related to access to resources: financing availability, investor access, human resource availability, higher eduction assets, workforce educational attainment and working age population.

Business cost factors totaled the other quarter of total points. Those factors were: business costs, office space affordability, labor costs, corporate taxes and cost of living.

Here are some of Rome’s stats and scores, according to the study, which used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., AreaVibes, Yelp, Indeed, U.S. News & World Report, Tax Foundation and LoopNet:

Rome’s average work week is 37.4 hours, its average growth in the number of small businesses was -1.43 percent, had an average of 8.27 startup businesses per 10,000 residents (the study used a scale to measure all cities), had an average revenue of $3,630,764 per business, an average growth of business revenue of 23.64 percent and industry variety of 5.39 percent.

For business costs, it had investor access (number of investing entities per 10,00 residents) of 0.3 and -2.59 percent in working age population growth.