20 Best Cities to Start a Business In

San Francisco regularly tops lists of the best cities to start a business, but you won’t find it on the top of this list – in fact, it’s #130/150.

WalletHub just announced 2015’s Best Cities to Start a Business, their ranking of the 150 highest populated cities in the US. Cities were ranked on 13 metrics:

Access to resources

  • Accessibility of financing (total value of small business loans / number of businesses)
  • Cost of office space (per square foot)
  • Availability of employees (job openings – number of people unemployed)
  • Median annual income (labor costs)

Business environment

  • Corporate taxes
  • Cost of living
  • Average length of a workday
  • Educational level of the workforce (percentage with a bachelor’s degree or more)
  • Entrepreneurial activity
  • Five-year survival rate
  • Number of small businesses per capita
  • Industry variety
  • Small business friendliness

Thanks to all these metrics – going beyond just startup activity and availability of funding – the cities between the coasts are able to shine. As you’ll see below, only a few of the top 20 are on a coast, and the ones that are happen to be in the Southeast. So these aren’t the top cities for tech startups, per se, but for entrepreneurial activity in general:

1. Shreveport, LA

2. Tulsa, OK

3. Springfield, MO

#2 shortest average workday

#2 cheapest office space

4. Chattanooga, TN

5. Jackson, MS

6. Sioux Falls, SD

#1 in small businesses per capita

7. Memphis, TN

8. Augusta, GA

9. Greensboro, NC

10. Columbus, GA

#4 longest average workday
#4 cheapest office space

11. Fort Wayne, IN

12. Amarillo, TX

#2 in accessibility of financing

13. Columbus, OH

14. New Orleans, LA

15. Birmingham, AL

#5 lowest annual income

16. Wichita, KS

17. Grand Rapids, MI

18. Laredo, TX

#5 in accessibility of financing

Office space is half as cheap as NYC

19. Winston-Salem, NC

20. Nashville, TN

Data for 2015’s Best Cities to Start a Business came from the US Census Bureau, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Indeed.com, the Kauffman Foundation, the Tax Foundation, the Council for Community and Economic Research, Thumbtack, LoopNet, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Image credit: Flickr / Lindsay Attaway / CC BY-SA 2.0 (cropped) 

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Written by:
Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.
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