A major entrepreneurial center in the country, the Kauffman Foundation, has ranked cities and states for small business friendliness. The results are interesting, but not as interesting as the reasons why some areas scored better than others. As it turns out, there are three things that make an ideal place to start a business:

1. The ease of complying with regulations;
2. The ease of complying with the tax code;
3. Free or cheap resources for training and entrepreneurial expertise.

Please understand what this is not saying: government does not have to be the enemy of business as long as government helps. Business people aren’t looking for the cheapest tax rates and lightest regulations. Business people are looking for some smart, efficient ways to identify the regulations they have to follow and a road map for compliance. I’ve been a business lawyer for 17 years. Finding and following the right regulations is always the challenge; will to comply with the law is not.

State and local governments that want to create more jobs ought to make legal compliance a frictionless process. Rewrite your laws so they make sense to humans. Index your laws and regulations by word as well as by function, industry and customer so everyone can find the laws that govern them. Draw a roadmap for compliance or fund a battalion of corporate lawyers who can help small business people figure things out at an affordable rate. Increase and advertise all the training programs you offer for entrepreneurs. Government is and always has been the partner to business. It’s time you acted like it.

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