Every year the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv) publishes a ranking of the business environment in Sweden's 290 municipalities, with the idea of highlighting the places with the most favourable conditions for starting and running a business.
It surveys 31,300 business owners and uses that information combined with stats from both state number-crunchers Statistics Sweden (SCB) and credit reference agency UC to compile the ranking. And the best place in Sweden for doing business according to the study is Solna, topping the charts for the 10th year in a row.
The business-dominated area, which is within Stockholm County but a separate municipality from the City of Stockholm, performed particularly well in the "municipal tax", "proportion of people employed" and "contracting" categories.
"The reason Solna tops the ranking is that the municipality has made the business environment a priority issue over a long period of time," Pontus Lindström, who compiled the ranking for the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, told The Local.
"From political leaders to people in an administrative capacity there is a positive view of enterprise, and a business-oriented exercise of public authority. The municipality also works well with matching job-seekers to employers who need labour – in that area Solna has long been at the forefront."
Sollentuna and Nacka, which are also in Stockholm County, came second and third, but the City of Stockholm performed poorly, dropping 27 places to 123rd. According to Lindström, some of the common issues flagged up about the capital's central municipality in the survey were friction with politicians and housing.
"The city of Stockholm really has many structural conditions that make it favourable to run a business: high in-migration, growth etc. But the reason it has dropped in the ranking is that businesses who answered the survey see the municipality's activities as sometimes hampering private business. Municipal politicans and administrative worker attitudes to enterprise is also rated low. Businesses there want lower fees, more housing and better understanding from local councils of the needs of businesses."
Stockholm is not the only city-centre municipality to perform badly however. The City of Malmö placed 153rd, and Gothenburg Municipality 206th. That is part of an overrall trend, Lindström noted.
"We can see a trend of several big cities performing poorly. Of the six biggest city municipalities (in Sweden) five had their lowest placing ever."
"In the case of Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö it’s above all the attitude from politicians that ranks very low. Services for businesses and competition from municipal activities is also an area where many big cities could do significantly better. It’s important municipalities maintain high services and fast processing times even during boom periods, when there’s often pressure on permit and supervisory matters," he concluded.