Utah is one of the better states for small-business development, according to a report issued Thursday.

The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council ranked Utah 18th in its annual list of states with the best climate, based on public policy, for small business. The ratings are determined by using 31 government-imposed or government-related costs and their impacts on the entrepreneurs.

Michale Sullivan, spokesman for the Governors Office of Economic Development, said that this ranking is just another on a long list of accolades the state has received. In many cases, such as a recently released Forbes report that ranked Salt Lake City as the best city for business, they are among the top areas.

"Anytime we're in the top 25 or so, we like to see it," he said.

Raymond Keating, the chief economist for SBE, said that Utah's business environment is helped by the lack of alternative minimum taxes, low workers compensation rates, and its status as a right-to-work state. It is hurt by high unemployment taxes and high consumption-based taxes.

Ideally, the SBE wants less government involvement in the small-business environment. The states that ranked the highest were those with the fewest number of burdens.

"Some elected officials, policymakers and special interests believe that taxes, regulations and other governmental costs can be increased with impunity," Keating said. "The economic reality tells a different story."

The five top states in the Small Business Survival Index are South Dakota, Nevada, Wyoming, Washington and Florida. The lowest five state are New York, Maine, Rhode Island, California and New Jersey.

"We're in a period of questions and uncertainty when it comes to the economy," he said. "It is critical for elected officials in the states to understand that their policies affect the decisions of entrepreneurs."

The entire report can be found at the SBE Web site, www.sbecouncil.org.

E-mail: jloftin@desnews.com