No Big Apple. No City of Angels. No Windy City. Much like in years past, our 1998 annual ranking of the best cities in the nation for small business takes us off the beaten path and onto roads less traveled. Not that there aren't cities you'll recognize on our list--neither Atlanta nor Orlando, Florida, are obscure destinations by any stretch--but we're always surprised by the results of the survey we conduct with Dun & Bradstreet (D&B).
Then again, maybe we're not too surprised. Major metropolitan areas tend to be ultra-competitive as well as notoriously high in business failures. According to Steve Hess, D&B's director of analytical services, setting up shop in commercial behemoths like Los Angeles also runs on the costly side. "Certainly, there are a lot of customers in markets like these," says Hess, "but they are very expensive places to [do business]."
Which brings us back to the cities--or, for statistical purists, the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs)-that made it into our ranking this year. Notice the strong showing of the Carolinas. Look, too, at the stellar performances of both Florida and Texas. And, fittingly enough, the home of the Indianapolis 500 raced onto our list as well.
"Memphis is an up-and-coming city," adds Hess, referring to this year's 11th-best large MSA and a new addition to the list. "More and more big companies are moving into Memphis, which will add a lot of opportunities for small companies."