Following up on BP's earlier post "Lisman's hour between doom and gloom," here's some more good news for Vermont - -and bad news for Bruce, I guess.
Money Magazine has just posted a list of the ten most entrepreneurial states, as measured by the number of business startups (per capita) in 2011. And little old Vermont is #8.
Yes, Vermont, sworn Socialist enemy of business, quasher of the entrepreneurial spirit, smothered of enterprise through a deadly combination of Big Brother regulation and confiscatory taxation. Vermont, home of unwashed hippies, spoiled trust-fund kids, and lazy do-nothings sucking on the public teat. That Vermont is one of the most entrepreneurial states in the country.
Well, what do you know. Vermont's on a list that includes low-tax havens like Texas, Florida, Alaska and Idaho. So tell me, Money Magazine, what makes Vermont so startup-friendly?
Smaller biotech, bioscience, environmental engineering and other tech companies are drawn to Vermont's vibrant venture capital network and state funding for startups.
...Many innovative firms get their start in incubators based at the state's top-notch schools, like the University of Vermont's Fletcher Allen Medical School. Such academic powerhouses also help produce a highly skilled workforce for entrepreneurs to hire.
The magazine does cite Vermont's high tax rates as a downside. But somehow, the state's doing very well in spite of those taxes. Hmm, in fact, Vermont's high ranking might lead me to believe that taxes aren't the only, or even the most important, factor in making a state business-friendly. Properly-spent taxes contribute to a positive business climate through higher education, worker training, social stability, and adequate infrastructure.
(I'd take it even further and argue that single-payer health care would be an absolute boon to startups. One of their biggest concerns is health-care coverage for themselves and their employees. If you took that burden away, even at the cost of somewhat higher taxes, I believe it would be a net positive for startups and small businesses.)
Still, I have to admit I'm a bit surprised to see Vermont in the top ten. But the ranking got some affirmation from a Vermonter in the know: Cairn Cross, co-founder and managing director of FreshTracks Capital, a Vermont-based venture capital firm. "This is not a surprise to me since I spend my hours on the ground working with Vermont's startup community," he told me. "Anecdotally, I would say this is one of the best times ever to start a business in Vermont, and Vermonters are indeed starting businesses at a greater rate per capita than their peers across the country."
Which is not to say that we don't have our issues and our struggles. But here's another reason for optimism. And for belief in the virtues of the Vermont way.
The complete Money list, from 1 to 10: Arizona, Texas, California, Colorado, Alaska, Missouri, Nevada, Vermont, Idaho, and Florida.