Top Seven Small Cities For a Business Startup

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So, you’ve decided to start your own business. That’s great! Money Examiners applauds that decision and wishes you our very best. We feel compelled to ask one question, though. Where will you locate your business venture? It’s our business to know what it will take to make your business a success. You need to know the cities that have the very best business climates. You’ll need the best people to help you operate your enterprise. The easy answer is The Big Apple, baby! Oh, pardon me? You say you don’t want your new place of business in some big city. You’re convinced that quality of life and the population of a city is in reverse proportion.

Well, that makes this a tricky question. Where should you create a business in the friendly confines of a small city, while not lagging behind businesses in the more population-rich centers? Would it help if you knew the top seven small cities when it comes to new businesses?

Initially, let’s establish our criteria and grading method, because small by itself, just is not good enough. First, access to sufficient resources (human, as well as financial) is one major factor. There are highly-educated individuals from top colleges all over this great land. Not just in the major cities. That’s good to know because the percentage of the workforce that is college educated is important to your decision. You want a deep candidate pool when it is time to hire. Of course, the financial resource piece goes without saying. You need to know your new city’s financing options. So, a high percentage of college graduates living near your business center, as well as “ready money,” is factored into our scores.

Second, the city’s business environment is important to ascertain. How are business taxes structured? Is there diversity in when it comes to the industry in, or near, town? Are the businesses already there seeing sustained growth? How’s the commute? Does it attract the best minds? Does it repel them? So, the business environment gets a score, as well.

Finally, you must pencil out the cost of doing business. Labor costs and corporate taxes are on your mind. So, there is our third and final category.

All of that said, are you ready for the seven best cities for business startups? We know you are. We crunched the numbers within our criteria list to find out where you should open that great new shop. All in all, we looked at over 200 cities before we chose. Beginning with lucky number seven.

Bozeman looking west to the majestic Rocky Mountains.
Bozeman looking west to the majestic Rocky Mountains.

7. Bozeman, MT: Even though only 45,250 folks live in this lovely part of the Big Sky, those people are in a sweet spot for a startup. That surprised us a bit because Bozeman actually scores fairly low in the business environment category. That’s due to persistent stagnant growth for the businesses already present. Then why should Bozeman even get a sniff of the list? This town has superb access to business resources. Bozeman is home to the highly-regarded Montana State University, (Go Bobcats!) and Gallatin County has ample money available for a business loan.

Downtown Ft. Myers, Florida
Downtown Ft. Myers, Florida

6. Fort Myers, FL: Though one of the most-populous cities in the survey (pop. 77,146), Ft. Myers fits easily into Money Examiners’ definition of what makes up a small city. We’re glad for that because the startup picture in this part of Florida is really good! Ft. Myers is one good example of a business environment that’s not great at any particular thing but is quite good at everything. The business environment (particularly when it comes to established businesses and profit) is Fort Myers’ best feature. But there are no red flags in any of our categories.

Here is one business that made a go of it headquartered in Cheyenne.
Here is one business that made a go of it headquartered in Cheyenne.

5. Cheyenne, WY: Cheyenne is the first on our list that has the honor of being the clear champ in one of Money Examiners’ categories. Top-ranked for its business environment, Cheyenne’s business tax is among the lowest in the United States. Access to business funding, though, isn’t great. That’s why this town that 64,119 call home isn’t on the gold medal podium. But, Cheyenne has a great deal to point to as a business destination.

Quaint and picturesque Wilson.
Quaint and picturesque Wilson.

4. Wilson, NC: Between the lovely Outer Banks, and the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill Research Triangle find little Wilson. You’ll find 49, 620 people there ahead of you. Business owners love this place for a low overall cost to do business, as well as its ready access to human resources. A surprising number of graduates from North Carolina, Duke, and North Carolina State wind up in Wilson.

Downtown Aberdeen
Downtown Aberdeen

3. Aberdeen, SD: The smallest place on this list makes the top three. That says a lot for this town of 28,415 souls bravely staving off South Dakota’s frigid winters. What is it about Aberdeen? Super low business costs enable a business startup to get a head start, and access to financial resources is way above average.

Overlooking St. George
Overlooking St. George

2. St. George, UT: The largest city in Utah that isn’t in the shadow of Salt Lake City is St. George. In fact, it’s almost Arizona, as well as almost Nevada. This place is practically heaven in its civic attitude toward business startups. That’s likely the reason why 82,318 folks are here doing commercial things. The business environment is top-shelf and the business cost categories are right there too.

The tulips are in bloom right now in Holland, Michigan
The tulips are in bloom right now in Holland, Michigan

1. Holland, MI: Contenders? We have listed a few, but there is just one winner. Holland, Michigan gets the garland around its neck. Holland’s access to financial and human resources numbers, as well as its cost of doing business numbers, are among the top five in the entire 200+ city survey. The 33,343 folks who live in Holland work, play and enjoy the local tulip shows. They also enjoy the across-the-board welcome the city offers new business startups. The business environment? Check. The cost in Holland of doing business? Check. Easy access to resources? Checkmate. All here for your new enterprise.

So, that’s our top seven small cities to consider for your business startup. You really can’t go wrong with any of them if your plan is sound. Sometimes, you just have to choose the town that speaks to you when you drive in. Good luck.