Best Cities for Young Entrepreneurs — Full Data

Personal Finance, Small Business
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Some places are friendlier — and cheaper — than others to launch a business, especially if you’re just starting out in your career. We also factored in the population between ages 25 and 34 and the education level of each city, because a young, local entrepreneurial community is most likely to thrive with more networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities. To find these places, NerdWallet analyzed 181 metropolitan areas in America, parsing data on the local business environment and economy from sources including the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and more. They are ranked in full below.

Rank City SBA loans per 100,000 residents Small businesses per 100 residents Percentage of total population age 25-34 Percent of population with a bachelor’s degree or higher Median earnings Unemployment rate as of September 2015 Overall score
1 Austin-Round Rock, TX $17,692,769 2.2 17.50% 41.50% $45,649 3.30% 75.67
2 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA $15,826,472 2.51 15.70% 45.90% $61,810 3.80% 74.88
3 Salt Lake City, UT $21,590,164 2.5 16.30% 31.30% $41,915 3.10% 72.03
4 Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO $14,648,482 2.62 15.90% 40.80% $49,713 3.20% 71.75
5 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI $15,957,600 2.48 14.80% 40.00% $51,496 3.10% 71.56
6 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA $13,807,823 2.53 16.00% 39.40% $55,123 4.30% 69.57
7 Madison, WI $11,354,367 2.4 14.90% 44.70% $48,194 2.70% 67.45
8 Midland, TX $6,707,714 2.9 16.90% 25.50% $52,261 3.30% 66.79
9 Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH $11,384,097 2.47 14.50% 45.20% $60,168 4.10% 66.64
10 Fargo, ND $10,303,954 2.61 16.30% 36.70% $42,704 2.10% 66.4
11 Fairbanks, AK $11,505,078 2.4 17.30% 34.40% $56,653 4.70% 65.82
12 Columbia, MO $10,513,209 2.44 14.80% 44.70% $41,235 3.10% 65
13 Anchorage, AK $14,424,330 2.53 16.20% 29.70% $55,009 5.10% 64.76
14 Bismarck, ND $10,720,089 2.89 14.50% 32.20% $42,655 2.00% 63.99
15 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV $7,364,348 2.26 15.50% 49.30% $62,172 4.30% 63.1
16 Raleigh, NC $10,020,435 2.28 13.90% 43.40% $47,618 4.60% 63.05
17 Burlington-South Burlington, VT $10,030,766 2.96 13.60% 41.70% $47,268 3.20% 62.95
18 San Diego-Carlsbad, CA $12,970,276 2.28 16.20% 37.10% $50,392 4.60% 62.61
19 Portland-South Portland, ME $11,634,852 3.16 12.20% 38.60% $45,836 3.00% 61
20 New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA $10,243,343 2.68 14.50% 37.90% $52,252 4.90% 60.76
21 Manhattan, KS $4,762,516 2.06 16.80% 45.80% $38,454 2.90% 59.95
22 Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA $5,264,811 2.31 14.90% 36.10% $47,904 3.10% 59.9
23 St. George, UT $18,785,769 2.67 12.80% 25.40% $36,762 3.70% 59.5
24 Cedar Rapids, IA $15,121,625 2.3 13.10% 30.60% $45,007 3.50% 59.48
25 Lincoln, NE $7,959,760 2.51 14.20% 35.60% $39,110 2.20% 59.41
26 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA $18,577,774 2.45 15.20% 32.10% $42,621 5.60% 59.4
27 Colorado Springs, CO $8,532,322 2.32 15.00% 36.20% $45,389 4.00% 58.83
28 St. Cloud, MN $14,418,194 2.55 13.50% 27.40% $40,407 3.10% 58.8
29 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA $15,121,346 2.21 14.00% 35.80% $45,589 5.50% 58.79
30 Boise City, ID $14,578,289 2.37 13.50% 29.40% $39,604 3.50% 58.52
31 Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI $12,776,005 2.22 13.90% 33.70% $46,826 4.10% 58.31
32 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX $12,836,893 2 14.70% 32.40% $45,311 3.90% 58.22
33 Durham-Chapel Hill, NC $6,654,788 2.07 14.90% 44.80% $43,395 4.70% 58.14
34 Columbus, OH $9,618,062 1.88 15.20% 34.70% $45,819 3.70% 58.08
35 Kansas City, MO-KS $10,648,757 2.27 14.10% 34.70% $45,528 4.40% 58.05
36 Savannah, GA $13,728,495 2.16 15.30% 31.20% $40,504 5.40% 57.87
37 Mankato-North Mankato, MN $8,608,928 2.42 14.80% 31.00% $41,377 2.60% 57.76
38 Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN $11,860,914 2.12 14.10% 31.60% $43,858 3.80% 57.36
39 Ames, IA $2,785,390 2.01 13.80% 47.90% $47,118 2.20% 57.28
40 Olympia-Tumwater, WA $10,230,279 2.12 14.70% 33.90% $51,669 5.40% 57.08
41 Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI $11,622,435 2.37 14.30% 36.10% $50,116 4.90% 56.93
42 Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA $9,795,780 2.59 14.90% 35.70% $48,589 5.20% 56.74
43 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD $12,342,606 2.26 13.90% 35.30% $51,285 5.20% 55.65
44 Sherman-Denison, TX $31,738,954 1.93 12.10% 22.20% $40,100 3.90% 55.32
45 Idaho Falls, ID $9,163,385 2.58 13.20% 25.60% $40,547 3.40% 55.23
46 Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO $12,777,360 2.03 14.30% 27.90% $39,185 3.50% 55.04
47 Manchester-Nashua, NH $7,812,451 2.5 12.80% 35.10% $51,664 3.00% 54.84
48 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX $11,437,278 1.86 15.10% 31.00% $45,765 4.60% 54.68
49 Oklahoma City, OK $6,463,497 2.43 14.90% 28.60% $40,680 3.60% 54.57
50 Richmond, VA $7,591,761 2.27 14.20% 33.80% $46,306 4.50% 54.46
51 Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN $11,245,370 1.96 13.30% 31.40% $46,071 3.90% 54.27
52 Dubuque, IA $7,417,765 2.68 13.30% 28.80% $40,121 3.20% 54.07
53 Wilmington, NC $8,577,645 2.74 13.30% 34.90% $40,793 5.20% 53.78
54 Ithaca, NY $4,174,857 2.14 14.20% 52.40% $44,005 3.90% 53.38
55 Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI $9,070,549 2.1 13.70% 31.10% $42,034 3.10% 53.22
56 Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD $6,248,409 2.21 14.50% 37.70% $54,073 5.30% 52.74
57 Pittsburgh, PA $8,383,425 2.37 13.00% 31.70% $46,566 4.90% 52.21
58 Flagstaff, AZ $15,537,253 2.45 13.60% 35.20% $40,831 6.40% 51.88
59 Bellingham, WA $13,063,724 2.86 12.50% 32.60% $41,384 5.40% 51.82
60 Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN $9,398,254 2.07 14.80% 32.10% $41,618 4.70% 51.75
61 Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA $13,354,157 1.91 13.90% 31.30% $50,899 5.20% 51.72
62 Eau Claire, WI $10,526,651 2.41 13.10% 26.40% $40,133 3.20% 51.64
63 Charleston-North Charleston, SC $7,432,117 2.22 15.70% 33.00% $41,755 5.10% 51.63
64 Tulsa, OK $9,452,458 2.34 13.50% 26.50% $40,237 4.30% 51.41
65 Kalamazoo-Portage, MI $10,418,991 1.91 12.90% 31.50% $41,247 3.90% 51.37
66 St. Louis, MO-IL $5,479,779 2.4 13.40% 32.30% $45,741 4.60% 51.35
67 Charlottesville, VA $3,012,585 2.49 13.70% 39.90% $45,011 3.60% 51.21
68 Lexington-Fayette, KY $4,820,605 2.28 13.90% 35.00% $40,276 3.50% 51.2
69 Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC $10,447,819 2.19 13.60% 32.90% $42,418 5.20% 51.2
70 Fort Wayne, IN $8,630,048 2.26 13.10% 26.80% $40,345 3.80% 50.75
71 Huntsville, AL $4,934,185 2 13.60% 35.20% $48,142 5.20% 49.95
72 Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT $6,614,842 2.25 12.30% 37.50% $56,950 5.10% 49.95
73 Jacksonville, FL $9,632,084 2.32 14.30% 27.50% $41,067 5.10% 49.87
74 Springfield, MO $10,799,123 2.39 12.90% 26.40% $36,522 4.00% 49.84
75 Dayton, OH $12,226,249 1.93 12.80% 27.30% $42,329 4.20% 49.82
76 Lubbock, TX $7,250,493 2.2 14.60% 27.00% $36,565 3.40% 49.5
77 Jackson, MS $7,342,819 2.14 14.00% 29.40% $39,270 4.90% 49.22
78 Springfield, IL $6,112,413 2.37 12.30% 31.30% $43,285 4.70% 49.11
79 Champaign-Urbana, IL $4,920,396 1.92 14.50% 38.90% $42,072 4.40% 49.07
80 Amarillo, TX $3,939,454 2.26 14.70% 22.70% $40,888 3.10% 48.99
81 Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA $10,631,631 2.34 13.60% 27.30% $42,107 5.80% 48.78
82 Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY $6,593,203 2.27 12.40% 35.40% $50,181 4.40% 48.75
83 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ $11,539,894 1.87 14.10% 29.00% $41,776 5.50% 47.71
84 Odessa, TX $7,570,628 2.17 16.30% 16.80% $42,981 4.50% 47.63
85 San Angelo, TX $10,359,606 2.23 15.30% 21.30% $35,408 4.00% 47.53
86 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL $9,692,480 2.93 13.40% 29.40% $37,045 5.60% 47.41
87 Kennewick-Richland, WA $10,898,996 1.88 14.10% 25.10% $45,296 5.40% 47.4
88 Wichita, KS $6,280,713 2.13 13.80% 29.40% $41,954 4.40% 47.11
89 Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN $6,557,552 2.1 13.40% 27.60% $41,776 4.00% 46.95
90 Cleveland-Elyria, OH $7,954,098 2.33 12.20% 29.50% $45,643 4.90% 46.86
91 Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI $8,680,102 2.14 12.20% 29.40% $47,971 5.70% 46.85
92 Akron, OH $9,062,025 2.17 12.40% 29.90% $42,587 4.20% 46.66
93 Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA $3,719,736 2.2 13.10% 29.90% $45,594 4.00% 46.08
94 Tyler, TX $6,633,827 2.45 13.10% 25.70% $40,647 4.50% 46.07
95 New Haven-Milford, CT $5,391,111 2.13 13.10% 34.50% $52,092 5.20% 45.81
96 Joplin, MO $10,730,381 2.24 12.90% 19.80% $34,931 3.90% 45.7
97 Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA $12,149,379 2.68 11.90% 27.40% $43,061 6.00% 45.54
98 Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA $3,848,982 2.27 13.40% 27.30% $41,116 3.80% 45.47
99 Hattiesburg, MS $4,549,802 2.09 15.40% 26.60% $36,663 5.40% 45.43
100 Jefferson City, MO $7,530,024 2.28 13.30% 25.40% $36,227 3.80% 45.42
101 Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY $6,100,558 2.23 13.10% 29.60% $43,794 5.30% 45.3
102 Providence-Warwick, RI-MA $7,471,584 2.39 12.80% 28.80% $47,489 4.80% 45.16
103 Evansville, IN-KY $5,662,770 2.25 13.00% 23.80% $41,184 3.60% 45.05
104 Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR $4,138,864 2.3 14.30% 28.60% $38,299 4.40% 44.99
105 Asheville, NC $6,742,487 2.5 11.70% 32.60% $37,210 4.30% 44.84
106 Fond du Lac, WI $9,098,655 2.19 11.90% 21.40% $41,445 3.20% 44.19
107 Peoria, IL $6,846,227 2.11 12.50% 29.40% $46,581 5.70% 43.89
108 Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN $3,936,033 1.76 13.10% 33.40% $40,538 3.60% 43.76
109 Columbia, SC $6,533,284 1.97 13.70% 31.70% $39,764 5.40% 43.56
110 San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX $7,211,795 1.7 14.60% 26.30% $39,894 3.70% 43.5
111 Abilene, TX $6,060,635 2.2 14.80% 21.60% $33,868 3.80% 43.28
112 Jonesboro, AR $8,071,298 2.12 14.00% 21.20% $33,622 4.30% 43.15
113 Dover, DE $13,880,991 1.75 12.80% 24.20% $40,030 5.40% 43.01
114 Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC $8,781,955 2.54 12.40% 35.00% $34,412 5.40% 42.85
115 Corpus Christi, TX $8,732,412 2.01 13.80% 20.10% $40,228 5.00% 42.82
116 Topeka, KS $2,883,110 2.12 12.80% 27.10% $42,217 3.80% 42.54
117 Morgantown, WV $641,380 1.92 16.50% 31.70% $40,386 4.80% 42.21
118 Pittsfield, MA $4,645,146 2.92 10.80% 31.10% $42,280 4.90% 42.1
119 Wichita Falls, TX $7,251,346 2.19 13.60% 21.50% $36,148 4.40% 42.03
120 Cleveland, TN $17,544,784 1.65 11.70% 19.40% $34,916 5.70% 41.87
121 Roanoke, VA $2,227,901 2.44 11.80% 27.10% $41,231 4.10% 41.82
122 Albuquerque, NM $5,854,003 1.94 14.20% 30.50% $40,769 6.40% 41.81
123 Birmingham-Hoover, AL $3,504,011 2.07 13.50% 28.20% $41,473 5.40% 41.33
124 Montgomery, AL $6,770,077 1.9 13.60% 27.80% $39,458 5.80% 40.86
125 Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC $6,344,933 2.06 12.60% 26.80% $40,086 5.10% 40.77
126 New Orleans-Metairie, LA $- 2.24 15.00% 28.90% $41,189 6.10% 40.24
127 Baton Rouge, LA $- 2.03 14.70% 27.30% $42,933 5.30% 39.91
128 Winchester, VA-WV $2,897,833 2.17 12.30% 25.10% $43,682 3.90% 39.78
129 Prescott, AZ $11,648,480 2.46 8.70% 25.50% $36,020 5.60% 39.74
130 Auburn-Opelika, AL $3,874,429 1.52 14.70% 31.70% $39,666 4.80% 39.66
131 Lafayette, LA $- 2.56 14.90% 21.50% $39,370 6.30% 39.59
132 Columbus, GA-AL $6,444,420 1.69 15.90% 23.90% $35,229 6.70% 39.57
133 South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI $5,857,856 1.91 12.30% 26.60% $38,462 4.20% 39.53
134 Chattanooga, TN-GA $8,868,532 1.92 13.00% 25.10% $38,218 5.60% 39.37
135 Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL $5,942,297 1.83 13.90% 26.00% $37,062 5.00% 39.09
136 Knoxville, TN $4,615,383 1.92 12.00% 27.60% $40,235 5.30% 38.53
137 Memphis, TN-MS-AR $4,189,839 1.73 13.80% 26.40% $39,950 6.40% 38.51
138 Hot Springs, AR $8,254,763 2.67 10.60% 22.10% $33,633 5.30% 38.42
139 Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL $3,204,884 2.21 12.60% 25.70% $41,998 5.00% 38.36
140 Harrisonburg, VA $2,230,404 2.18 12.70% 28.10% $36,929 4.00% 38.3
141 Tucson, AZ $6,085,737 1.88 12.20% 30.80% $38,812 5.70% 38.24
142 Waco, TX $7,212,836 1.88 12.60% 21.20% $35,941 4.10% 38.05
143 Staunton-Waynesboro, VA $763,990 2.21 12.50% 25.60% $40,866 4.00% 37.79
144 Erie, PA $2,871,503 2.08 12.90% 28.00% $41,328 4.80% 37.45
145 Rockford, IL $7,437,816 2 11.70% 22.50% $42,837 6.20% 37.44
146 Decatur, IL $3,827,503 2.12 11.30% 24.20% $45,564 6.40% 37.07
147 Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ $8,120,881 1.69 13.20% 24.80% $43,237 7.60% 36.54
148 Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC $5,356,735 1.67 13.70% 25.40% $40,080 6.30% 36.43
149 Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV $8,711,144 1.87 14.80% 22.70% $38,995 6.80% 36.31
150 Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC $6,315,159 2.41 11.70% 24.20% $34,869 6.20% 36.03
151 Monroe, LA $- 2.38 13.90% 23.50% $39,479 6.60% 35.95
152 Valdosta, GA $7,907,084 1.96 14.00% 21.90% $31,392 5.90% 35.94
153 Bowling Green, KY $3,526,469 1.96 13.30% 21.40% $36,200 4.00% 35.91
154 Lawton, OK $1,749,534 1.64 15.20% 21.20% $37,141 4.30% 35.9
155 Longview, TX $3,772,835 2.33 12.40% 17.50% $40,272 4.90% 35.47
156 Morristown, TN $15,537,753 1.56 11.70% 19.10% $35,040 6.30% 35.3
157 Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton, PA $4,496,452 2.21 12.10% 23.80% $40,426 5.40% 35.18
158 Lake Charles, LA $- 2.08 14.20% 20.30% $40,996 5.30% 34.83
159 Shreveport-Bossier City, LA $- 2.11 14.20% 21.80% $40,142 6.90% 34.48
160 Pueblo, CO $3,884,170 1.79 12.30% 23.60% $38,907 5.10% 34.37
161 Winston-Salem, NC $5,416,823 1.87 11.60% 25.20% $38,166 5.10% 34.18
162 Lynchburg, VA $909,927 2.17 11.30% 27.20% $37,432 4.50% 33.95
163 Dalton, GA $14,306,131 1.66 12.20% 13.90% $30,720 6.10% 32.64
164 Lima, OH $4,544,745 2.18 11.80% 14.20% $37,046 4.10% 32.15
165 Burlington, NC $3,059,913 1.91 11.90% 20.50% $37,191 4.90% 31.35
166 Jackson, TN $1,160,223 2.14 12.70% 23.60% $36,144 6.10% 31.34
167 El Paso, TX $4,050,492 1.56 14.20% 21.00% $32,212 5.10% 30.94
168 Decatur, AL $2,891,680 1.85 12.70% 16.90% $37,384 6.00% 29.7
169 Dothan, AL $1,614,977 2.17 12.20% 17.30% $35,137 6.00% 29.31
170 Bakersfield, CA $9,317,851 1.33 15.00% 15.40% $39,839 8.40% 28.99
171 Hammond, LA $- 1.7 14.20% 19.60% $40,101 6.90% 28.89
172 Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, AL $2,081,421 1.88 12.70% 18.80% $36,164 6.80% 28.28
173 Stockton-Lodi, CA $8,449,868 1.4 13.50% 18.30% $42,759 7.50% 27.71
174 Modesto, CA $7,340,774 1.51 14.00% 17.00% $41,694 7.60% 27.38
175 Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL $1,060,018 2.06 12.00% 21.70% $36,476 7.00% 27.25
176 Alexandria, LA $- 2.03 13.00% 16.90% $37,536 6.50% 25.12
177 McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX $4,217,151 1.33 13.20% 17.90% $31,223 7.40% 24.62
178 Danville, IL $1,181,517 1.73 12.80% 13.80% $37,793 6.40% 24.45
179 Yakima, WA $3,154,304 1.77 12.70% 14.50% $32,522 5.30% 23.73
180 Yuma, AZ $6,001,269 1.34 13.70% 13.50% $35,567 26.00% 22.49
181 Brownsville-Harlingen, TX $3,899,075 1.42 12.20% 17.40% $29,137 6.60% 20.72

Methodology

NerdWallet analyzed 181 metropolitan areas in the United States — each area for which cost of living information was available.

The score for each location was determined by analyzing data from the U.S. Small Business Administration, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Council for Community and Economic Research. Our analysis examined:

Small-business financing, which accounts for 20% of the total score. It’s based on the following metric from the U.S. Small Business Administration (via usaspending.gov):

  • SBA loan guarantees per 100,000 people from October 2014 to September 2015 is 20% of the score. A higher rate contributed to a higher score.

Local business environment, which accounts for 25% of the total score. It’s based on the following two metrics from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 County Business Patterns report and the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Small businesses per 100 residents is 15% of the score. A higher number contributed to a higher score.
  • The unemployment rate as of September 2015 is 10% of the score. A lower rate contributed to a higher score.

Local economy, which accounts for 55% of the total score. It’s based on the following four metrics from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey and the Council for Community and Economic Research:

  • The percentage of the total population that is age 25-34 makes up 15% of the score. A higher percentage contributed to a higher score.
  • The percentage of the population age 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher makes up 15% of the score. A higher percentage contributed to a higher score.
  • The median earnings of the full-time, year-round civilian employed population age 16 and older makes up 15% of the score. A higher amount contributed to a higher score.
  • The cost of living index in the third quarter of 2015 is 10% of the score. A lower rate contributed to a higher score.

Jonathan Todd is a data analyst with NerdWallet.


Downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, image via iStock.