Growth Matters

Where Niche Industries Are Thriving – and Why

Where Niche Industries Are Thriving – and Why
Image credit: Lyft

Before you think big, think local. Often, companies get their start maximizing what a local market has to offer before making the big time. Take a look at industries flourishing in cities across the country and why. 

1. Ridesharing. If you want to be the next Uber, Lyft or Sidecar, you should know if your region can foster the community of drivers – and riders-- you’ll need to both compete and survive. According to a recent data analysis by San Francisco-based Zen99, the opportunity exists in cities such as Washington, D.C., Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and Atlanta. In these cities, the cost to maintain a car is low and the middle class is thriving and not car-dependent.
Read more: These Are the Best Cities for Uber and Lyft Drivers (Infographic)

2. Specialty foods. There's a reason why a recent SNL sketch featured artisanal mayonnaise from Brooklyn. New York’s five boroughs are an ideal location to set up shop if you are catering to foodies, with all manner of incubators and accelerators, venture capital support, training programs, meet up groups, classes, food markets and a population of 8.4 million people hungry for the next big delicious thing. A population with spending cash that’s always looking for the next big thing never hurts either.

3. Health and medical. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has become one of the best areas to start a healthcare-oriented venture thanks to 188,000 health and medical professionals in the city, an emphasis on quality patient care, highly-ranked hospitals, lower insurance costs and a track record for scientific and medical innovation.

4. Aerospace. If you fancy yourself the next Elon Musk, take a look at Arizona. More than 1,200 aerospace and defense companies are based in the state. Approximately half of the technology industry in Tucson, Ariz. is dedicated to defense and aerospace projects, with big-name contractors like Honeywell and Raytheon doing much of their production in the city. Meanwhile, Arizona’s colleges are doing their part by training the next generation of scientists, engineers and researchers to ensure a steady flow of new talent.

Read more: From Recreational Apparel to Weed, Here Are Our Best Cities for Niche Industries

5. Mobile, software and apps. Northern California always rides high for mobile technology development, thanks in part to a long history in risk-taking competitive technology, starting with the ‘60s Space Race. But that’s not to overlook a nearby city like Newark, California, that offers the access to Silicon Valley without the high costs. Other cities across the country finding success in tech, like Boulder, Colorado or Seattle, Washington, have laid ecosystems for funding, staffing and mentoring leveraging both entrepreneurial know-how and an educated populace.

Read more: The 25 Best Cities for U.S. Tech Startups

6. Restaurants. When you think cutting-edge restaurant concepts, you should think Miami, Fla. The area boasts a growing population and was already a hub for tourism. Miami denizens go to out to eat more than the national average and most importantly, they spend more than the national average as well. If you are looking to launch and up-and-coming eatery, Miami-Dade County is one of your best bets.

7. Athletics. There is a fair amount of truth to Portlandia's lovingly skewered portrayal of Oregon's largest city as a paradise for the health-conscious. The athletic lifestyle and apparel industry is booming in Portland and environs, as it’s settled by enthusiasts in everything from biking to bird-watching to white water rafting. Companies have taken notice with Adidas, Columbia Sportswear and Nike holding corporate offices either in Portland or just outside, employing thousands of outdoorsy-types for their insights on design and distribution. 

Edition: December 2016

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