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Best Places to Start a Business in Missouri

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Best Places to Start a Business in Missouri

St. Louis has been a magnet for entrepreneurs, especially in the past year: Six new businesses opened for every 1,000 residents, the highest rate in the Show-Me State, according to the 2015 Missouri Economic Report.

However, those looking for the best places to start a business may find that the suburbs of the state’s second-biggest city provide an even stronger environment for entrepreneurs, NerdWallet discovered.

NerdWallet’s analysis

We looked at 117 places in Missouri, each with a population of at least 5,000, then calculated the overall score for each location based on the business climate and economic health using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. For more details, see the methodology section at the end of this article.

Entrepreneurs looking to start a small business in Missouri will find resources in NerdWallet’s Small Business Guide. For financing, take a look at NerdWallet’s comparison of small-business loans for a variety of needs.

Key takeaways

St. Louis metro area’s win. All cities ranked in the top 10 are in close proximity to St. Louis. The farthest one,  Ellisville, is over 20 miles from St. Louis, and no places beyond a 25-mile radius of the larger city made the cut.

Small is big. Most cities or towns on the top 10 list are small, with only two places topping 18,000 residents — and four cities have populations of less than 10,000 people.

Best places to start a business in Missouri

1. Creve Coeur

Located about 15 miles from central St. Louis, Creve Coeur is the Monsanto Co.’s world headquarters and also a hub for technology, as well as life sciences and bioscience. The city had the second-highest number of businesses per 100 residents in the top 10.

Average revenue per business: $5,347,591
Number of businesses per 100 people: 19.33
Businesses with paid employees: 44.49%

2. Clayton

Among the top 10 places, Clayton has the highest number of businesses per 100 people. This thriving St. Louis suburb of about 16,000 residents is home to Fontbonne University, Concordia Seminary and Washington University in St. Louis West Campus, in addition to several corporate headquarters.

Average revenue per business: $3,006,574
Number of businesses per 100 people: 21.58
Businesses with paid employees: 44.22%

3. Brentwood

At only 1.5 square miles, Brentwood is the smallest city in the top 10 by population, with just over 8,000 residents. But its daytime population swells to nearly triple that number due to employment at retail outlets and companies. Among the 117 places analyzed, Brentwood has the third-highest percentage of businesses with paid employees.

Average revenue per business: $1,727,150
Number of businesses per 100 people: 18.65
Businesses with paid employees: 48.52%

4. Town and Country

Of the 117 cities we examined, this affluent St. Louis suburb had the lowest unemployment rate. With a median annual income of $128,594, it ranked the highest in this category. Town and Country is home to the headquarters of Energizer Holdings.

Average revenue per business: $4,229,324
Number of businesses per 100 people: 15.01
Businesses with paid employees: 34.14%

5. Sunset Hills

Panera Bread’s corporate headquarters are located in Sunset Hills, a community in the St. Louis area known for Laumeier Sculpture Park, a 105-acre space featuring contemporary art.

Average revenue per business: $2,197,116
Number of businesses per 100 people: 15.04
Businesses with paid employees: 37.50%

6. Maryland Heights

Maryland Heights is the location of many corporate headquarters, but this small town also offers numerous places for residents and visitors to play, including Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park, Aquaport water park and Hollywood Casino.

Average revenue per business: $4,955,500
Number of businesses per 100 people: 11.92
Businesses with paid employees: 48.41%

7. Chesterfield

Among the top 10 cities, Chesterfield is the largest by population with over 47,000 residents. This lush city is the location of the world headquarters of Reinsurance Group of America and several major health facilities, such as St. Luke’s Hospital.

Average revenue per business: $2,485,816
Number of businesses per 100 people: 14.61
Businesses with paid employees: 30.87%

8. Des Peres

This St. Louis suburb, which assesses no real estate or personal property taxes, is the world headquarters of Edward Jones Investments. It’s also a family-friendly city, with numerous parks and a large community center called The Lodge.

Average revenue per business: $2,079,016
Number of businesses per 100 people: 17.16
Businesses with paid employees: 34.42%

9. Bridgeton

Bordering Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, Bridgeton is home to SSM Health DePaul Hospital, the only Level II trauma center in North St. Louis County, and the corporate headquarters of Trans States Airlines.

Average revenue per business: $4,692,060
Number of businesses per 100 people: 10.44
Businesses with paid employees: 48.89%

10. Ellisville

Most residents of this small suburb commute elsewhere for work since there aren’t many companies based here. Still, Ellisville is home to several hundred businesses, including retail stores and restaurants.

Average revenue per business: $1,990,225
Number of businesses per 100 people: 12.61
Businesses with paid employees: 38.18%

Looking for financing to start or grow your small business? Compare your options for small-business loans here:

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Best places to start a business in Missouri data

Scroll through the table below to see the data on the 117 places analyzed in Missouri.

Rank City Population Number of businesses Average revenue per business Percentage of businesses with paid employees Businesses per 100 residents Unemployment rate Score
1 Creve Coeur 17,817 3,268 $5,347,591 44.49% 19.33 3.8% 89.03
2 Clayton 15,862 3,462 $3,006,574 44.22% 21.58 4.2% 86.92
3 Brentwood 8,031 1,350 $1,727,150 48.52% 18.65 4.1% 82.39
4 Town and Country 10,876 1,611 $4,229,324 34.14% 15.01 2.9% 80.17
5 Sunset Hills 8,497 1,240 $2,197,116 37.50% 15.04 4.3% 78.18
6 Maryland Heights 27,432 3,107 $4,955,500 48.41% 11.92 7.6% 77.75
7 Chesterfield 47,568 6,767 $2,485,816 30.87% 14.61 4.9% 76.24
8 Des Peres 8,403 1,473 $2,079,016 34.42% 17.16 5.1% 74.67
9 Bridgeton 11,661 1,577 $4,692,060 48.89% 10.44 11.0% 71.74
10 Ellisville 9,153 1,163 $1,990,225 38.18% 12.61 5.7% 69.94
11 Ladue 8,519 1,590 $2,282,160 21.26% 19.38 3.6% 69.81
12 Parkville 5,682 756 $604,586 44.97% 14.21 6.0% 66.46
13 Branson 10,741 2,211 $886,179 41.75% 28.68 6.8% 65.69
14 Nevada 8,653 1,137 $781,251 44.24% 14.10 7.1% 65.19
15 Overland 16,041 1,511 $1,949,771 40.64% 9.58 7.5% 63.00
16 Monett 8,904 862 $2,797,907 44.32% 9.93 14.2% 62.43
17 Washington 13,994 1,725 $980,724 38.32% 12.17 6.1% 61.49
18 Sappington 7,426 669 $1,222,411 44.25% 8.49 6.7% 61.31
19 West Plains 12,125 1,779 $1,070,820 37.61% 15.26 10.2% 61.23
20 Cape Girardeau 38,296 3,682 $1,486,410 42.88% 9.96 8.3% 61.13
21 Richmond Heights 8,569 1,256 $744,649 30.02% 13.69 4.3% 60.04
22 Olivette 7,767 1,234 $1,464,762 23.91% 16.58 7.4% 59.95
23 St. Peters 53,589 4,478 $1,954,744 37.58% 8.14 6.5% 59.73
24 Perryville 8,264 919 $1,153,910 34.82% 11.43 5.1% 59.73
25 Jefferson City 43,202 4,383 $1,336,771 29.61% 10.75 5.2% 58.87
26 Union 10,347 853 $1,390,703 45.84% 9.10 9.4% 58.09
27 Shrewsbury 6,232 600 $1,423,608 37.00% 9.57 7.8% 57.44
28 Pacific 6,046 533 $1,705,869 41.65% 7.75 9.0% 57.18
29 Poplar Bluff 17,172 2,025 $857,925 44.20% 11.96 10.7% 57.12
30 Wentzville 30,334 1,870 $3,282,371 28.24% 8.60 5.9% 56.14
31 Hannibal 17,844 1,273 $1,403,699 42.73% 7.27 7.7% 55.91
32 Kirkwood 27,541 3,297 $691,513 26.30% 12.28 3.8% 55.36
33 Joplin 50,766 4,277 $1,600,910 39.21% 8.77 9.7% 55.18
34 Clinton 9,048 583 $1,653,151 44.08% 6.19 8.6% 54.80
35 Sikeston 16,511 1,281 $1,431,688 46.92% 7.39 11.0% 54.54
36 Moberly 13,925 1,145 $1,156,861 41.14% 8.16 8.2% 53.92
37 Chillicothe 8,708 1,177 $536,065 26.08% 13.73 5.6% 53.28
38 St. Charles 66,361 5,918 $1,564,346 30.97% 9.29 8.3% 52.96
39 Hazelwood 25,691 1,910 $2,375,829 32.04% 7.52 11.0% 52.62
40 Springfield 161,189 17,218 $1,500,628 31.11% 11.11 10.2% 52.57
41 Rolla 19,672 1,216 $977,626 48.93% 6.69 9.1% 52.54
42 Crestwood 11,937 1,370 $579,821 28.61% 11.92 6.4% 52.19
43 Mexico 11,533 875 $1,896,104 31.66% 8.03 9.2% 52.14
44 Maplewood 8,015 932 $949,121 34.76% 10.73 9.8% 51.96
45 Columbia 111,145 10,138 $1,017,583 29.14% 10.26 5.8% 51.79
46 Kirksville 17,520 1,229 $834,092 41.82% 7.13 7.5% 51.25
47 Lebanon 14,558 1,865 $1,229,710 27.88% 13.39 11.3% 51.09
48 Dexter 7,869 740 $1,122,743 32.97% 9.72 9.2% 50.34
49 Farmington 16,886 1,686 $809,536 36.60% 10.69 9.6% 50.33
50 Neosho 11,990 964 $1,138,992 29.05% 8.65 5.3% 50.32
51 Concord 16,750 1,575 $635,783 29.33% 9.49 5.2% 50.09
52 Webster Groves 23,022 2,761 $434,444 24.52% 12.25 5.3% 49.34
53 Jackson 13,999 1,743 $483,110 22.49% 12.94 5.7% 48.89
54 Kennett 11,138 1,001 $624,886 43.66% 9.06 11.6% 48.57
55 Lee’s Summit 91,758 9,450 $683,164 24.41% 11.70 5.5% 47.90
56 Berkeley 9,106 515 $19,966,951 39.81% 5.44 14.3% 47.69
57 St. Joseph 76,984 6,351 $1,547,246 28.09% 8.35 9.0% 47.52
58 Kansas City 462,378 35,818 $2,083,713 24.46% 7.55 9.7% 47.23
59 Maryville 12,000 879 $1,124,408 28.90% 8.17 8.0% 46.27
60 Sedalia 21,402 2,034 $825,586 29.45% 9.78 7.5% 46.22
61 Cameron 10,136 842 $857,176 40.86% 9.25 12.9% 46.07
62 Aurora 7,508 691 $759,864 34.88% 9.39 9.9% 45.81
63 St. Louis 318,955 23,632 $2,456,927 29.11% 6.66 14.3% 45.81
64 O’Fallon 80,617 5,893 $1,452,713 23.72% 7.88 5.7% 45.59
65 Grain Valley 12,843 876 $756,853 28.77% 9.21 6.0% 45.20
66 De Soto 6,451 641 $699,398 31.05% 9.90 8.5% 45.20
67 Kearney 8,637 920 $387,362 24.24% 11.11 3.8% 45.12
68 Fulton 12,750 887 $1,375,923 26.72% 7.03 7.7% 44.97
69 Marshall 13,039 1,146 $946,930 26.61% 9.39 8.1% 44.48
70 Festus 11,662 1,041 $715,271 33.24% 9.39 10.2% 44.43
71 Warrenton 7,934 1,463 $565,600 16.88% 20.55 8.4% 44.11
72 Pleasant Hill 8,122 811 $272,998 27.25% 11.56 7.3% 44.01
73 Ozark 18,092 1,851 $578,258 23.28% 10.90 6.8% 43.90
74 Warrensburg 19,332 2,061 $423,432 27.75% 11.08 8.3% 43.68
75 Troy 10,833 959 $836,541 27.53% 8.46 6.9% 43.57
76 Valley Park 6,968 644 $388,508 25.16% 10.22 6.6% 43.27
77 Eureka 10,270 984 $530,203 23.78% 10.77 6.6% 43.13
78 Raytown 29,513 2,379 $747,530 27.95% 8.56 6.9% 42.63
79 Harrisonville 10,012 853 $823,596 30.83% 8.68 9.0% 42.59
80 Marshfield 6,714 858 $463,648 22.03% 12.25 9.3% 41.89
81 Lake St. Louis 14,618 1,412 $580,011 25.07% 10.22 8.0% 41.69
82 Richmond 5,746 591 $340,475 27.92% 10.03 9.0% 41.36
83 Murphy 8,587 788 $770,732 31.73% 8.65 10.7% 41.25
84 Liberty 29,533 2,828 $832,155 25.42% 9.29 8.9% 41.19
85 Mehlville 28,454 2,502 $622,709 27.34% 8.66 8.2% 41.19
86 Ballwin 30,427 2,929 $330,905 23.97% 9.72 5.8% 41.05
87 Sullivan 7,625 832 $798,064 27.88% 11.59 18.0% 40.67
88 Excelsior Springs 11,308 739 $994,288 28.55% 6.14 6.7% 40.40
89 Bolivar 10,398 937 $629,873 35.97% 8.70 12.7% 40.32
90 Carthage 14,301 1,053 $1,608,461 28.68% 7.74 13.7% 40.16
91 Boonville 8,317 789 $696,503 31.31% 9.07 11.6% 39.48
92 Glendale 5,913 576 $271,233 14.58% 10.45 3.3% 39.33
93 Arnold 20,945 1,632 $673,270 29.17% 7.98 9.3% 39.15
94 Grandview 24,673 1,859 $958,247 31.52% 7.87 11.1% 38.79
95 Wildwood 35,568 3,647 $180,738 16.59% 10.61 4.5% 38.52
96 Manchester 18,152 1,457 $255,922 22.10% 7.80 3.6% 37.89
97 Gladstone 25,755 2,198 $431,615 28.30% 7.78 8.4% 37.50
98 Smithville 8,602 748 $431,132 14.84% 9.57 3.7% 37.35
99 Affton 21,359 1,445 $583,226 23.81% 6.98 6.4% 37.27
100 Oak Grove 7,745 509 $524,821 28.68% 7.68 8.0% 37.22
101 Republic 15,002 1,060 $495,783 21.60% 8.26 6.6% 36.28
102 Blue Springs 52,776 4,912 $429,255 21.56% 8.99 6.8% 36.19
103 Oakville 36,197 2,908 $344,073 20.32% 8.01 5.7% 36.05
104 Nixa 19,461 1,792 $375,554 19.03% 9.88 7.3% 34.43
105 Independence 116,881 7,693 $799,612 26.32% 6.39 10.2% 34.16
106 Webb City 10,983 755 $651,951 23.84% 6.72 7.8% 33.92
107 Bonne Terre 6,975 506 $220,729 24.70% 7.29 9.3% 33.26
108 Raymore 19,330 1,417 $210,075 16.16% 8.30 4.2% 32.31
109 Carl Junction 7,446 690 $91,935 6.81% 9.79 5.2% 31.38
110 Lemay 16,521 1,110 $485,436 23.60% 6.59 8.3% 31.24
111 University City 35,305 3,092 $374,718 19.92% 8.45 9.9% 30.77
112 Florissant 52,335 3,471 $421,016 24.20% 6.81 9.4% 30.63
113 Belton 23,163 1,974 $375,105 21.63% 8.07 10.8% 28.39
114 St. Ann 13,011 851 $331,803 24.56% 6.67 11.5% 26.99
115 Ferguson 21,164 1,460 $622,136 22.88% 6.92 12.2% 26.65
116 Jennings 14,755 719 $290,350 17.66% 4.89 25.4% 13.39
117 Spanish Lake 19,959 1,161 $218,850 11.37% 5.86 17.7% 11.95

Methodology

NerdWallet analyzed 117 places in Missouri, each with a population of 5,000 or more. We excluded communities with less than 500 businesses.

NerdWallet calculated the overall score for each location using the following criteria:

Business climate, 65% of the overall score, is based on three metrics from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.
Average revenue of businesses is 20% of the score. A higher average contributed to a higher score.
Percentage of businesses with paid employees is 25% of the score. A higher percentage contributed to a higher score.
Businesses per 100 people is 20% of the score. A higher number contributed to a higher score.

Local economic health, 35% of the overall score, is based on three metrics from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
Median annual income is 10% of the score. A higher median income contributed to a higher score.
Median annual housing costs are 10% of the score. Lower median costs contributed to a higher score.
Unemployment rate for residents over age 16 is 15% of the score. A lower rate contributed to a higher score.

NerdWallet staff writer Emily Starbuck Crone contributed to this article.


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