The Center for the Study of Economic Liberty at Arizona State University has just released the Doing Business North America report, a first-of-its kind report that provides objective measures of business regulations across 115 cities in 92 states, provinces and districts in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The report uses these measures to score and rank cities in regard to how easy or difficult it is to set up, operate and shut down a business.

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Modeled upon the World Bank’s Doing Business report, the Doing Business North America report measures the regulations that apply to domestic small- and medium-sized companies throughout their lifecycle. The report complies and analyses city-specific data, offering a comprehensive look at a particular jurisdiction’s business environment, including regulations having to do with starting a business, employing workers, acquiring electricity, paying taxes, registering property and resolving insolvency.

By comparing business environments across North America, the report offers measurable benchmarks for reform that encourage states and provinces to pursue regulatory frameworks that ease the cost of doing business.

“The Doing Business North America report offers local jurisdictions objective data on how policies, regulations and licensing requirements affect businesses in their community,” said Steve Slivinski, senior research fellow and project director of the Doing Business North America report at the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty. “This is a powerful tool that can be used by public officials to inform and guide policy,” said Slivinski. “We expect that many jurisdictions will be interested in how they rank compared to their neighbors or peers.”

The Doing Business North America research team was led by Slivinski, with support from undergraduate students from the W. P. Carey School of Business, The College, School of Sustainability, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, and School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. Additional support was provided by Caminos de la Libertad, an educational foundation based in Mexico City.

Doing Business North America is predicated on the idea that a well-functioning economy requires good rules,” said Ross Emmett, director, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty. “The ease of doing business in a location is higher when the rules are clear and the steps involved are few. A study like this is useful for policy research in both the academic and the policy-maker communities.”

The report findings include:

  • Oklahoma City accumulated the highest Ease of Doing Business Score.
  • The Canadian cities of Winnipeg, Halifax, and Moncton lead the “Starting a Business” category, which measures the number of legal procedures required to start a business and the costs associated with those procedures.
  • In the category of “Employing Workers,” which includes mandates like minimum wages and required paid leave, Arlington, VA takes the top spot.

“What makes this project so exciting is that it clears the way for immediate action and outcomes in our communities,” said Amy Hillman, dean, W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University. “Small and medium-sized firms account for the majority of businesses in the United States; their success is critical to our economy. This report equips local governments with data that shows how they are either helping or hindering those businesses, from a regulatory perspective.”

The Doing Business North America report is available to the public here.

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