The Best Places to Start a Business in Ohio

Small Business
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Best places to start a business in Ohio

Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Ohio occupied the center of America’s industrial heart. The burgeoning United States economy couldn’t get enough of the region’s cars and steel, and in turn, Ohio and other states provided a virtually endless stream of jobs in its workshops and factories.

In the second half of the 20th century, however, the region fell into decline, as manufacturing output required less labor input, and companies left the Great Lakes states for the warmer climes of the Sun Belt. The entire region was categorized economically dead as factories closed and traditionally middle-class manufacturing jobs disappeared.

But what really happened wasn’t quite that simple. Although it’s true the number of manufacturing jobs has declined, Ohio remains one of the country’s most productive states. Photos of rusted, abandoned factories paint a dire picture, but companies and communities adjusted, and the Ohio economy proved to be more resilient and dynamic than portrayed.

The economy has changed, but several trends show that Ohio is anything but in decline:

A strong labor market: The statewide unemployment rate in Ohio touched 12% in January 2010, a couple of points higher than the national peak of 10% in October 2009. Since then, the unemployment rate in the Buckeye State has fallen to 5.4%, as of March 2015 — below the national rate of 5.5%.

Manufacturing output: Although it is true that manufacturing jobs have decreased from around 22% of all jobs in Ohio in 1990 to 12.6% now, this is still a higher proportion of manufacturing jobs than the national average of 10.4%. Ohio more than pulls its weight in output as well — the state makes up 3.4% of the U.S. gross domestic product but is responsible for 4.8% of its manufacturing output.

To put it another way, the state’s GDP of $565 billion in 2013 would make it the 27th largest economy in the world if Ohio were its own country. And with 25 Fortune 500 companies based in Ohio, there is a strong existing business infrastructure to draw on. These qualities of size and strength present potential entrepreneurs with plenty of opportunities in the Buckeye State.

Where are the best places to start a business in Ohio?

To find the best places to start a business in Ohio, NerdWallet examined communities with more than 500 businesses and a population of at least 5,000. These businesses range in size from sole proprietorships to large companies. We used two categories with a total of six variables for our analysis.

Business climate. NerdWallet analyzed the average revenue of businesses, the percentage of businesses with paid employees and the number of businesses per 100 people. A higher measure for each variable indicates a more business-friendly environment.

A majority of businesses in the U.S. — and in Ohio — are made up of one person and don’t have paid employees.

Local economic health. We looked at annual median income, monthly median housing costs and unemployment rates for each community. We analyzed income and housing costs, so areas with a high median income and low housing costs scored higher. We examined the unemployment rate to see whether a community’s economy supported business success. A lower unemployment rate scored higher.

NerdWallet’s key takeaways

Greater Cincinnati is a hot spot. Four cities in the top 10 are in Hamilton County, where Cincinnati is located. Cincinnati is home to nine Fortune 500 companies, making this a strong and established business environment.

Small cities dominate. The average population of the top 10 cities is 10,303, significantly less than the statewide average of 28,470. This means entrepreneurs can network through the entire business community in many of these cities.

Top communities are highly entrepreneurial. The top 10 have, on average, 14.92 businesses per 100 people, well above the statewide average of 9.03, meaning business owners are highly concentrated in many of these cities.

Best places to start a business in Ohio

1. Blue Ash

With the highest concentration of businesses relative to population in the state of Ohio (24.19 businesses per 100 residents), Blue Ash takes the top spot as the best place to start a business in the Buckeye State. This Hamilton County community 15 miles northeast of Cincinnati also has provided business opportunities for many well-known entrepreneurs — multinationals such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble Co. and Toyota have operations in Blue Ash, and the city is the headquarters of The J. Peterman Co., the clothier made famous by the TV show “Seinfeld.”

2. Independence

The top-ranked northern Ohio city, Independence is a state hub for information services and tech companies. Independence is home to satellite offices of tech giants Microsoft and EMC, which has provided entrepreneurs an established pool of talent and opportunity. The city is also expanding its high-speed fiber-optic network, an amenity that has proved to be a job magnet in other markets such as Chattanooga, Tennessee.

3. Moraine

This Dayton suburb of 6,314 holds the distinction of having the highest average revenue per business in the state, so there are plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs to tap into an established business community. This environment has also continued to be attractive to established businesses — the city recently announced that Fuyao Glass America Inc. planned to hire 1,550 workers and invest $360 million into a plant in Moraine.

4. Beachwood

With 20.88 businesses per 100 residents, Beachwood, 10 miles east of Cleveland, is one of the most entrepreneurial places in the state. This enterprising spirit has led to the lowest unemployment rate in the top 10, at 2.1%. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Beachwood Chamber of Commerce holds monthly networking events to foster this pioneering business environment.

5. Fairlawn

As the home of the UH Fairlawn Health Center and Summa Health System, Fairlawn is developing into a regional hub for health care. Fairlawn has clearly benefited from the growing health-care industry, as indicated by the community’s 3% unemployment rate — the second lowest in the top 10.

6. Sharonville

Sharonville is Blue Ash’s neighbor to the northwest, and like its Hamilton County neighbor, it is something of a regional destination for business and opportunity. First, the city has the second-highest proportion of businesses with paid employees in the state, at 54.73%. This indicates that Sharonville is full of established, successful employers, rather than individual proprietors. Second, the town draws talent from the entire region. The city is proud of this strong business environment, boasting on its website that the population of Sharonville is 13,500 — but 39,000 during the daytime.

7. Kenwood

Kenwood is the third Hamilton County community in the top 10. Just south of Blue Ash, Kenwood has a well-balanced local business environment. It scores high in businesses with paid employees (49.95%), and the unemployment rate of 4.6% is below the top 10 average of 4.8%. The town itself provides a strong and steady economic environment — of the four Hamilton County communities in the top 10, Kenwood has the highest median annual income, at $63,063.

8. Oregon

Oregon was recently in the news because it temporarily changed its name before the Oregon Ducks played the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2015 college football national championship. Business owners, however, have taken notice of this Toledo suburb for other reasons: Oregon’s 1,102 businesses have the second-highest average revenue per business in the state, behind only Moraine. Business owners can also count on local support to help build and grow in Oregon. For the last 22 years, the Oregon Economic Development Foundation has helped shape the local economic landscape.

9. Springdale

The fourth Hamilton County community in the top 10, Springdale — like its neighbors — has a high proportion of businesses with paid employees (52.29%, which beats the statewide average of 29.99% by a notable margin). The city also has a stronger than average labor market, with an unemployment rate of 4.9%, compared with the statewide average of 5.9% (as of the 2013 American Community Survey). To help foster a strong business environment, Springdale provides financing and tax incentives to help businesses create jobs and grow in the community.

10. Ontario

Ontario is about halfway between Columbus and Cleveland, which makes it the top 10 city farthest from one of Ohio’s major population centers. This community of 6,172 residents, however, has seen strong growth in recent years, attracting employers by way of incentives including the Ontario Job Creation Tax Credit. The project has worked well — for example, Cole Tooling & Stamping moved to Ontario from nearby Mansfield, and the company reportedly expects to see a 25% increase in jobs “over the next few years, each year.”

Best places to start a business in Ohio

 

Rank City Population Number of businesses Average revenue per business Percentage of businesses with paid employees Businesses per 100 people Unemployment rate Overall score
1 Blue Ash 12,116 2,931 $4,377,407 48.17% 24.19 5.30% 71.58
2 Independence 7,123 1,458 $4,903,249 50.75% 20.47 4.70% 71.35
3 Moraine 6,314 938 $9,410,111 51.07% 14.86 8.40% 70.44
4 Beachwood 11,884 2,481 $2,481,222 48.41% 20.88 2.10% 69.83
5 Fairlawn 7,427 1,356 $2,423,739 50.66% 18.26 3.00% 66.77
6 Sharonville 13,898 1,460 $5,259,934 54.73% 10.51 4.60% 65.30
7 Kenwood 6,671 983 $1,763,341 49.95% 14.74 4.60% 58.65
8 Oregon 20,255 1,102 $9,216,269 37.66% 5.44 5.50% 58.58
9 Springdale 11,171 1,113 $3,709,226 52.29% 9.96 4.90% 58.11
10 Ontario 6,172 614 $2,313,077 52.44% 9.95 4.90% 56.41
11 Milford 6,715 812 $1,211,044 46.67% 12.09 2.70% 55.09
12 Worthington 13,521 2,527 $1,311,554 31.70% 18.69 2.90% 54.42
13 Upper Sandusky 6,844 612 $1,579,899 55.23% 8.94 5.80% 53.95
14 Maumee 14,212 1,899 $2,638,319 39.44% 13.36 4.50% 53.04
15 St. Clairsville 5,158 900 $575,632 30.22% 17.45 1.90% 51.48
16 Solon 23,214 3,245 $2,818,962 34.73% 13.98 4.70% 51.30
17 Chardon 5,162 908 $1,006,111 34.91% 17.59 4.50% 50.19
18 Montgomery 10,283 1,632 $2,492,042 25.00% 15.87 3.50% 50.08
19 Dublin 41,958 5,360 $3,337,720 27.20% 12.77 3.30% 49.63
20 Middleburg Heights 15,863 1,838 $1,763,982 40.37% 11.59 5.80% 49.51
21 Hillsboro 6,598 510 $1,756,365 54.12% 7.73 9.10% 48.95
22 Willoughby 22,334 2,521 $1,481,314 39.27% 11.29 4.60% 48.43
23 Rocky River 20,107 1,986 $484,131 37.06% 9.88 3.30% 48.06
24 Coshocton 11,223 818 $1,561,793 45.23% 7.29 5.50% 47.69
25 Westlake 32,552 3,987 $1,227,554 32.46% 12.25 3.50% 47.49
26 Brecksville 13,584 1,652 $1,559,279 33.35% 12.16 4.20% 47.49
27 Bedford Heights 10,699 842 $3,725,711 46.91% 7.87 9.90% 47.35
28 Highland Heights 8,315 1,088 $2,038,608 29.32% 13.08 3.20% 47.07
29 Zanesville 25,481 1,958 $2,270,849 46.22% 7.68 7.20% 47.00
30 Twinsburg 18,765 2,060 $2,167,792 30.58% 10.98 3.30% 46.62
31 Steubenville 18,525 1,322 $1,086,497 41.53% 7.14 4.10% 46.36
32 Streetsboro 16,043 952 $3,022,471 39.81% 5.93 4.60% 46.13
33 Dover 12,828 847 $1,497,519 43.45% 6.60 5.10% 45.94
34 Oxford 21,608 707 $735,446 49.22% 3.27 3.50% 45.44
35 Forestville 10,298 1,109 $894,995 30.30% 10.77 3.20% 45.20
36 Franklin 11,825 726 $2,862,231 43.94% 6.14 7.60% 45.07
37 Mayfield Heights 19,029 2,061 $2,637,858 26.25% 10.83 3.40% 45.02
38 St. Marys 8,232 954 $1,211,709 34.80% 11.59 5.50% 44.99
39 Landen 7,005 1,486 $305,814 20.12% 21.21 4.00% 44.92
40 Mentor 47,134 5,112 $1,175,734 34.00% 10.85 4.20% 44.76
41 Wooster 26,260 2,163 $1,613,607 35.83% 8.24 4.00% 44.49
42 Marietta 14,067 1,582 $1,388,175 33.57% 11.25 5.60% 44.29
43 Vandalia 15,206 1,055 $2,511,343 38.86% 6.94 6.50% 44.14
44 Geneva 6,175 569 $667,722 42.00% 9.21 6.60% 43.86
45 Napoleon 9,000 759 $1,678,353 39.66% 8.43 8.10% 43.80
46 Boardman 35,173 3,676 $661,086 33.87% 10.45 4.40% 43.74
47 Cambridge 10,622 940 $1,202,455 39.26% 8.85 6.30% 43.72
48 Washington Court House 14,139 912 $3,954,924 33.66% 6.45 6.30% 43.65
49 Belpre 6,440 635 $1,599,975 32.13% 9.86 4.50% 43.64
50 Granville 5,659 681 $380,727 30.40% 12.03 3.70% 43.62
51 Harrison 10,054 983 $1,176,724 36.01% 9.78 5.60% 43.51
52 Grandview Heights 6,695 897 $764,246 26.98% 13.40 2.70% 43.17
53 Howland Center 6,554 541 $445,575 36.97% 8.25 4.00% 43.13
54 Bellbrook 7,008 863 $648,528 32.68% 12.31 5.40% 43.12
55 Hudson 22,335 3,087 $954,637 23.32% 13.82 3.50% 43.09
56 Canal Fulton 5,480 589 $414,063 34.80% 10.75 4.90% 42.82
57 Jackson 6,363 764 $2,247,690 26.57% 12.01 5.00% 42.67
58 Mount Vernon 16,947 1,098 $1,982,706 39.80% 6.48 6.20% 42.52
59 Westerville 36,778 4,926 $1,093,418 23.57% 13.39 3.20% 42.50
60 Heath 10,351 727 $2,174,103 33.43% 7.02 4.60% 42.45
61 Mansfield 47,360 3,740 $1,444,200 38.93% 7.90 6.90% 42.41
62 London 9,892 600 $2,497,775 34.67% 6.07 4.90% 42.28
63 Huron 7,133 622 $716,291 36.17% 8.72 4.90% 42.28
64 Urbana 11,669 655 $1,754,258 44.27% 5.61 8.60% 42.28
65 Portsmouth 20,357 1,554 $964,723 36.87% 7.63 5.40% 42.23
66 Tiffin 17,896 1,455 $2,067,102 39.24% 8.13 8.30% 42.20
67 Columbiana 6,231 581 $686,379 29.09% 9.32 1.80% 42.17
68 Medina 26,617 2,738 $946,516 31.19% 10.29 4.20% 42.16
69 Brooklyn 11,080 809 $4,693,933 26.08% 7.30 6.50% 42.11
70 Bryan 8,536 734 $1,864,007 35.15% 8.60 6.60% 41.97
71 Niles 18,988 1,110 $1,661,323 38.47% 5.85 6.20% 41.83
72 Norwood 19,151 1,401 $1,747,717 35.40% 7.32 5.40% 41.69
73 Athens 24,201 1,254 $718,363 43.38% 5.18 6.40% 41.47
74 Bedford 12,994 1,055 $1,726,703 35.17% 8.12 6.30% 41.45
75 Reading 10,370 824 $1,374,579 35.80% 7.95 6.80% 41.43
76 Oberlin 8,380 579 $1,183,228 32.99% 6.91 4.20% 41.22
77 Troy 25,134 1,943 $3,111,596 27.90% 7.73 5.20% 41.16
78 Shelby 9,022 629 $961,380 32.43% 6.97 3.90% 41.10
79 Avon 21,440 1,409 $1,129,067 33.22% 6.57 4.40% 41.07
80 Madeira 8,749 1,134 $259,430 22.75% 12.96 3.10% 41.06
81 Kenton 8,019 535 $1,153,163 45.05% 6.67 9.00% 40.98
82 Logan 7,261 736 $794,662 31.79% 10.14 5.50% 40.96
83 Wapakoneta 9,861 811 $807,787 33.42% 8.22 4.20% 40.95
84 Canfield 7,478 1,043 $517,705 20.04% 13.95 4.20% 40.95
85 Warrensville Heights 13,469 1,155 $1,856,794 37.06% 8.58 7.30% 40.80
86 Macedonia 11,268 1,361 $950,126 28.29% 12.08 5.40% 40.27
87 Powell 11,746 1,597 $259,364 21.54% 13.60 2.50% 40.20
88 Norwalk 16,959 1,552 $826,928 32.86% 9.15 5.80% 40.19
89 Greenville 13,152 1,195 $1,408,417 32.47% 9.09 6.70% 40.09
90 Ashland 20,492 1,505 $1,037,918 39.00% 7.34 7.60% 40.05
91 Loveland 12,370 1,359 $598,428 23.91% 10.99 2.80% 40.03
92 Monroe 13,009 628 $3,204,390 33.12% 4.83 5.10% 39.97
93 Aurora 15,524 1,719 $1,289,682 24.08% 11.07 4.90% 39.73
94 Fairfield 42,623 4,097 $2,529,828 28.56% 9.61 7.00% 39.73
95 Centerville 23,965 2,181 $1,120,149 26.64% 9.10 4.20% 39.72
96 New Philadelphia 17,321 1,659 $890,212 31.16% 9.58 5.60% 39.60
97 Fremont 16,633 1,494 $1,546,292 35.14% 8.98 8.40% 39.58
98 Northwood 5,289 546 $2,421,749 31.14% 10.32 8.80% 39.54
99 Celina 10,388 869 $743,679 36.59% 8.37 7.40% 39.32
100 Strongsville 44,656 4,182 $1,087,691 26.02% 9.36 4.70% 38.97
101 Miamisburg 20,148 1,814 $1,059,055 27.34% 9.00 4.50% 38.90
102 Findlay 41,373 4,052 $2,019,100 27.12% 9.79 6.70% 38.88
103 Springboro 17,693 1,765 $1,149,070 25.84% 9.98 4.20% 38.87
104 Defiance 16,658 1,226 $1,503,079 35.24% 7.36 8.00% 38.68
105 Gahanna 33,570 3,478 $822,962 27.08% 10.36 4.20% 38.63
106 Salem 12,264 1,319 $999,237 30.48% 10.76 7.20% 38.52
107 North Royalton 30,355 3,038 $464,671 26.07% 10.01 4.50% 38.49
108 Norton 12,048 827 $1,043,642 31.08% 6.86 4.60% 38.39
109 Perrysburg 20,982 2,430 $636,442 22.59% 11.58 4.40% 38.36
110 Avon Lake 22,708 1,949 $2,306,740 19.55% 8.58 3.40% 38.33
111 Barberton 26,461 1,442 $2,632,941 34.19% 5.45 7.90% 38.15
112 Wilmington 12,500 908 $1,851,638 36.34% 7.26 9.20% 38.04
113 Cortland 7,064 796 $500,446 22.36% 11.27 4.20% 38.00
114 Van Wert 10,787 833 $2,182,101 31.81% 7.72 8.30% 37.91
115 Marysville 22,581 1,643 $1,049,322 29.03% 7.28 4.40% 37.84
116 Lancaster 38,948 2,939 $742,237 34.13% 7.55 6.90% 37.80
117 Wickliffe 12,719 1,163 $840,645 29.23% 9.14 6.40% 37.73
118 Richmond Heights 10,524 1,013 $662,990 31.00% 9.63 7.10% 37.72
119 Mason 30,905 2,647 $1,356,270 27.13% 8.56 4.90% 37.67
120 Green 25,742 2,171 $1,246,550 26.26% 8.43 5.00% 37.66
121 Brook Park 19,126 1,551 $1,693,716 29.34% 8.11 6.40% 37.64
122 Bellefontaine 13,162 989 $1,188,128 34.98% 7.51 7.80% 37.63
123 Lyndhurst 13,916 1,715 $253,016 20.58% 12.32 3.00% 37.57
124 Wadsworth 21,678 2,205 $605,681 23.76% 10.17 4.00% 37.46
125 Newark 47,708 3,035 $1,585,418 32.49% 6.36 6.80% 37.32
126 Sandusky 25,606 1,728 $1,080,594 33.97% 6.75 7.30% 37.15
127 Sylvania 18,929 2,168 $453,533 22.56% 11.45 4.90% 37.14
128 North Olmsted 32,504 2,802 $1,122,241 28.27% 8.62 5.90% 37.13
129 Springfield 60,423 3,267 $1,767,509 37.62% 5.41 8.70% 37.10
130 Eastlake 18,549 1,613 $1,292,109 26.16% 8.70 5.20% 37.10
131 Beavercreek 45,459 3,679 $855,806 22.45% 8.09 3.50% 37.09
132 Warren 41,199 2,863 $1,554,264 30.49% 6.95 6.80% 37.03
133 Fairview Park 16,704 1,516 $366,662 28.17% 9.08 5.70% 37.00
134 Upper Arlington 34,008 4,638 $255,743 14.88% 13.64 3.10% 36.88
135 Fostoria 13,209 752 $2,012,725 36.04% 5.69 9.50% 36.77
136 Beckett Ridge 8,728 747 $932,731 23.03% 8.56 4.30% 36.74
137 Amherst 12,057 993 $1,115,261 26.28% 8.24 5.80% 36.72
138 Northgate 7,109 594 $610,522 26.77% 8.36 4.80% 36.65
139 North Canton 17,433 1,541 $571,621 26.61% 8.84 5.20% 36.59
140 Canton 73,027 4,983 $2,681,704 32.55% 6.82 9.60% 36.54
141 Sidney 21,095 1,649 $2,362,255 27.23% 7.82 7.30% 36.51
142 Tallmadge 17,492 1,226 $827,945 25.12% 7.01 3.80% 36.44
143 Hubbard 7,817 796 $339,377 23.12% 10.18 4.60% 36.36
144 Grove City 36,261 3,000 $1,687,417 21.33% 8.27 3.70% 36.33
145 Ironton 10,989 877 $521,181 27.25% 7.98 5.00% 36.29
146 Broadview Heights 19,292 1,831 $776,458 21.90% 9.49 4.60% 36.27
147 Ashtabula 18,976 1,594 $884,152 32.62% 8.40 8.00% 36.25
148 Stow 34,750 3,189 $707,084 24.55% 9.18 4.70% 36.22
149 Lebanon 20,287 1,709 $1,212,610 30.37% 8.42 7.70% 36.11
150 Berea 19,072 1,561 $666,183 31.26% 8.18 7.10% 36.03
151 Cincinnati 297,150 26,491 $2,272,362 25.07% 8.92 8.30% 35.93
152 Wheelersburg 6,600 773 $389,922 25.74% 11.71 8.70% 35.29
153 Wauseon 6,803 671 $806,565 30.70% 9.86 9.20% 35.21
154 Brookville 6,162 562 $619,157 21.71% 9.12 4.70% 35.15
155 Conneaut 12,839 795 $611,187 32.33% 6.19 6.50% 35.13
156 Delphos 7,212 654 $1,083,612 22.94% 9.07 6.20% 35.01
157 Cuyahoga Falls 49,430 4,188 $699,020 23.30% 8.47 4.80% 34.98
158 Circleville 13,410 880 $815,968 30.11% 6.56 6.80% 34.72
159 Tipp City 9,731 880 $807,890 22.50% 9.04 5.30% 34.71
160 Delaware 35,599 2,704 $1,032,484 19.79% 7.60 3.10% 34.57
161 Forest Park 18,687 1,319 $2,174,637 27.29% 7.06 6.90% 34.55
162 Seven Hills 11,756 832 $584,953 23.80% 7.08 5.10% 34.52
163 Munroe Falls 5,027 699 $170,525 16.17% 13.90 5.50% 34.50
164 Kettering 56,202 4,771 $1,118,311 20.90% 8.49 5.00% 34.44
165 Marion 36,857 1,796 $1,228,928 29.90% 4.87 5.90% 34.40
166 Englewood 13,440 976 $461,934 28.18% 7.26 5.90% 34.40
167 New Franklin 14,239 1,135 $273,979 28.63% 7.97 6.90% 34.38
168 Eaton 8,362 717 $1,238,810 23.85% 8.57 6.30% 34.38
169 Brunswick 34,386 2,631 $546,094 25.31% 7.65 4.90% 34.37
170 Bowling Green 31,049 1,835 $1,241,165 34.44% 5.91 9.90% 34.25
171 Piqua 20,600 1,535 $948,074 30.16% 7.45 7.80% 34.12
172 Lima 38,570 2,263 $2,589,925 32.88% 5.87 11.30% 33.90
173 Elyria 54,290 3,597 $1,128,917 30.47% 6.63 7.90% 33.86
174 Portage Lakes 6,912 705 $343,843 25.53% 10.20 8.00% 33.53
175 White Oak 18,708 1,128 $292,631 25.35% 6.03 4.90% 33.32
176 University Heights 13,476 1,313 $314,352 19.35% 9.74 4.50% 33.20
177 Ravenna 11,653 1,266 $838,034 25.91% 10.86 9.30% 33.15
178 Chillicothe 21,885 1,784 $937,642 28.25% 8.15 9.60% 33.08
179 Massillon 32,130 2,089 $1,299,545 27.24% 6.50 7.90% 33.07
180 Alliance 22,256 1,595 $840,841 31.41% 7.17 9.20% 32.99
181 Columbus 800,594 56,954 $2,118,546 21.78% 7.11 6.70% 32.91
182 Austintown 29,605 2,104 $839,037 26.00% 7.11 7.10% 32.90
183 Fairborn 32,798 1,309 $1,283,630 29.56% 3.99 6.60% 32.86
184 Vermilion 10,775 994 $375,635 24.55% 9.23 6.60% 32.65
185 Oakwood 9,165 829 $184,881 10.62% 9.05 1.50% 32.62
186 Louisville 9,161 686 $471,592 16.18% 7.49 2.90% 32.54
187 Shaker Heights 28,200 3,291 $201,849 12.82% 11.67 4.20% 32.51
188 Hilliard 29,715 3,057 $671,412 18.22% 10.29 5.00% 32.51
189 Mount Healthy 6,060 509 $264,334 22.79% 8.40 6.00% 32.40
190 Whitehall 18,291 1,376 $924,159 31.03% 7.52 9.10% 32.32
191 Dry Run 7,109 762 $76,573 16.27% 10.72 4.00% 32.31
192 Painesville 19,616 1,280 $991,041 27.58% 6.53 7.30% 32.04
193 Lincoln Village 9,453 786 $670,453 23.79% 8.31 5.80% 32.00
194 North Ridgeville 30,103 2,350 $422,404 24.51% 7.81 6.30% 31.81
195 Dayton 143,446 9,071 $1,744,635 29.91% 6.32 10.30% 31.78
196 Cleveland 394,335 26,174 $1,859,640 30.50% 6.64 11.70% 31.09
197 Parma 81,055 5,695 $595,757 21.63% 7.03 6.00% 31.03
198 Xenia 25,835 1,931 $615,943 22.11% 7.47 6.30% 30.99
199 Middletown 48,664 3,570 $2,064,557 24.03% 7.34 9.50% 30.91
200 Finneytown 13,115 1,074 $261,265 22.91% 8.19 5.80% 30.87
201 Olmsted Falls 8,946 796 $208,068 14.82% 8.90 3.70% 30.80
202 Akron 199,038 14,301 $1,315,304 27.24% 7.19 9.80% 30.75
203 Struthers 10,630 778 $448,357 25.84% 7.32 7.90% 30.74
204 Clayton 13,207 1,148 $262,417 22.39% 8.69 6.30% 30.53
205 Reynoldsburg 35,652 3,086 $301,287 18.05% 8.66 5.00% 30.47
206 Youngstown 66,511 3,856 $1,237,514 28.48% 5.80 9.90% 30.42
207 Garfield Heights 28,650 1,879 $852,757 26.13% 6.56 8.50% 30.14
208 Riverside 25,181 1,190 $814,499 31.93% 4.73 9.60% 29.89
209 Hamilton 62,350 4,014 $911,812 24.96% 6.44 8.40% 29.82
210 Girard 9,874 861 $410,109 16.61% 8.72 6.10% 29.80
211 Lakewood 51,693 4,371 $428,229 19.35% 8.46 6.90% 29.72
212 Lorain 64,017 2,943 $1,117,459 29.05% 4.60 9.50% 29.67
213 Cleveland Heights 45,851 4,544 $218,388 17.63% 9.91 6.90% 29.49
214 Toledo 285,459 16,554 $1,137,032 28.84% 5.80 10.70% 29.45
215 Kent 31,301 1,414 $690,474 30.69% 4.52 9.10% 29.13
216 Pataskala 14,969 1,486 $676,030 12.52% 9.93 4.60% 28.91
217 Parma Heights 20,583 1,325 $195,792 17.28% 6.44 4.80% 28.90
218 Huber Heights 38,573 2,397 $665,030 20.28% 6.21 6.40% 28.60
219 Pickerington 18,678 2,061 $327,275 13.88% 11.03 5.90% 28.39
220 South Euclid 22,139 1,768 $242,175 21.61% 7.99 7.90% 28.04
221 Dent 10,398 561 $458,936 14.62% 5.40 4.00% 27.92
222 Sheffield Lake 9,103 613 $123,951 15.50% 6.73 4.10% 26.90
223 Willowick 14,123 711 $334,646 18.85% 5.03 6.40% 26.83
224 Euclid 48,564 2,779 $1,066,628 21.52% 5.72 9.30% 26.57
225 Maple Heights 22,996 1,498 $837,773 24.23% 6.51 10.50% 25.87
226 Trotwood 24,375 1,418 $376,471 15.59% 5.82 8.40% 22.16
227 Northbrook 10,226 525 $355,461 14.29% 5.13 9.00% 19.01
228 East Cleveland 17,812 887 $346,888 23.22% 4.98 14.20% 18.54

Methodology

We analyzed communities with a population over 5,000 and with 500 or more businesses, but we excluded places that lacked data. We calculated the score for each location with 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 16 years old is 15% of the score. A lower rate contributed to a higher score.

For more information on starting a small business, check out NerdWallet’s small business guide.

Update: A link in earlier versions of the methodology has been changed.


Image of Cincinnati, Ohio, skyline via iStock.