If you’re thinking about starting a business, you may dream of taking a big city by storm: San Francisco, New York, or Austin, Inc.’s top “surge city” for entrepreneurship. But maybe you should consider a smaller city instead.
That advice comes from Verizon, which after some data crunching, came to this conclusion: “The smaller the city, the more room there is to grow.”
Verizon, which uses the Census Bureau definition of a small city as one with 50,000 to 75,000 residents, examined 300 such municipalities around the country and found the 50 best places for starting a business. The factors they considered include percentage of residents with a college degree, affordable labor costs, commute times, broadband, availability of loans, number of existing businesses per capita, and tax friendliness as defined by the Tax Foundation.
You can find the full analysis of the top 50 small cities here. These are the top 10:
1. Logan, Utah
This town is home to Utah State University, which specializes in science, engineering, and research, and will likely guarantee the talent you need to build a successful business. USU also draws a higher percentage of students from out of state than any other public university in the state. Logan is located in the Cache Valley, surrounded by farmland.
2. Sarasota, Florida
Sarasota is mostly known as a tourist mecca and a great place for snow birds seeking cultural experiences during the winter months. But it’s also a great place to start a business (Boar’s Head is headquartered here.) Located on Florida’s West Coast, on the Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota and its nearby islands (or “keys” also boast some of the world’s best beaches.
3. Coral Gables, Florida
Florida, perhaps for its tax friendliness and educated population, is very well represented on the list of small cities for starting a business. Twenty of the top 50 small cities are in Florida, and three made it into the top 10. With just over 51,000 residents, Coral Gables just barely meets the Census Bureau definition for a city, or standard metropolitan statistial area, as bureaucrats put it.
But what it lacks in population it makes up for in education, with the highest percentage of college grads in the top 10. With tree-lined streets and Spanish colonial architecture, it wins points for attractiveness as well.
4. South Jordan, Utah
Utah beats out even Florida with four small cities among Verizon’s top 10. South Jordan is part of the Salt Lake City metro area. Both Salt Lake City and and South Jordan are seeing a boom in tech startups, and the region has earned the nickname “Silicon Slopes.” Which points to another advantage of locating here–winter skiing and summer hiking are appealingly nearby.
5. Doral, Florida
This city near Miami International Airport is home to eight universities and colleges, and the Carnival Cruise Lines headquarters. It’s sometimes called “Doralzuela” because it also has the largest concentration of Venezuelan ex-pats in the United States–an estimated 28 percent of the population is of Venezuelan descent.
6. Cheyenne, Wyoming
Cheyenne is the only state capital in the top 10, and it may seem an odd choice for a startup–it seems more focused on its cowboy traditions the railroads that employ many locals than on entrepreneurial opportunities. But the area is rapidly growing. And for those working in alternative energy, the city’s high winds make it an ideal place for wind farms.
7. Lehi, Utah
Mormon pioneers were the first settlers in this place at a spot with the unpromising name Dry Creek. (Indeed, they had to divert water from a different creek to irrigate their crops.) Today, Lehi is very much part of the Silicon Slopes tech boom–in fact, one out of every 14 flash memory chips in the world was created in Lehi. Adobe, Microsoft, and Vivint Solar all have large operations here, and Ancestry.com recently moved its headquarters here as well.
8. Taylorsville, Utah
This small city is in the middle of the Salt Lake Valley and pretty much in the center of Utah. Like South Jordan, Taylorsville is part of the greater Salt Lake City metro area, but the fact that Interstate 215 runs right through town gives it an advantage in terms of transportation and logistics. Retail trade and manufacturing are two of the biggest industries here.
9. Missoula, Montana
This city is surrounded by five mountains, and thus is often referred to as the “hub of five valleys.” It’s home to the University of Montana, giving it a more educated workforce than elsewhere in the state. And with more than 73,000 inhabitants, Missoula just barely fits under the threshold for a small city.
This city long depended on the logging industry for employment, but as logging dwindled, other industries took its place. These days, civil engineering, construction, and transportation are all important local industries.
10. Corvallis, Oregon
This small city in the Willamette Valley, about 50 miles inland from the Oregon coast is home to the University of Oregon, the city’s biggest employer. Other major employers include SIGA Technologies and HP, which has a printing R&D facility in town.