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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."
Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill (1998)
There it grows again! For the fourth year in a row, the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, North Carolina, triangle ranks as one of Entrepreneur's top spots for small businesses. Since last year's ranking, a population influx-pushing the number from 995,256 to 1,025,253--and economic growth have catapulted the region into the number-one large-city slot, and folks in the Tar Heel state expect the good times to keep rollin'.
Growth in this region is no flash in the pan; it's been going strong for the past 15 years. The area's bedrock sectors are either very stable (for example, state government and education), or on the economy's cutting edge, such as technology. There are also pro-business state and local governments as well as an abundance of highly skilled graduates from the region's powerhouse research universities and prestigious law and medical schools.
The telecommunications industry is making its presence known, while technology and biotechnology show no signs of slowing. Several new facilities, including a $232 million Environmental Protection Agency facility, are sure to increase demand for suppliers and service providers. Venture capital--both home-grown and imported--is also on the rise.
The bad news? Traffic is increasing, as is the demand for labor, a crippling factor in the current tight labor market. To combat the traffic problem, the Triangle J Council of Governments is looking at mass transit options. On the labor front, the Council for Entrepreneurial Development has initiated an internship program that places MBA students in local entrepreneurial firms to entice them to stay in the area after graduation.
The strong infrastructure, additional capital and quality work force, coupled with a high quality of life, have officials confident this region will continue to grow.
A cultivated spirit of cooperation has resulted in 87 consecutive months of economic growth in Columbia, South Carolina, and has propelled this Southern metropolis to the top of Entrepreneur's 1998 list of best midsized cities.
This attitude has even influenced local beliefs about business. Small and midsized firms are being encouraged to get involved in international commerce with help from entities like the University of South Carolina (USC). The university recently received two donations totaling $26 million, now earmarked for the school's Darla Moore School of Business and its top-rated Master of International Business Studies program. USC is also at the center of a push by five counties in the region to become a technology hub: The university has a new $5 million microelectronics lab with an educational chip manufacturing facility, and an incubator in the school of engineering that nurtures high-tech start-ups.
Downtown Columbia is becoming a high-tech haven, with a fledgling software industry growing by leaps and bounds. Other growth sectors include transportation, spurred by the proximity of the East Coast's second-largest containerized deep-water cargo port in Charleston, and tourism, due at least in part to a world-class zoo.
Government is also a big contributor to Columbia's strong economy. A new Department of Justice training center for federal, state and local attorneys will host 10,000 trainees annually, and Army military base Fort Jackson, with its $735 million annual impact on the area, has become home to units from other closed Army bases. Service and retail companies have opened to support the influx.
Like most growing cities, Columbia has its problems--among them, an archaic transportation system and a tight employment market. Officials are aggressively promoting downtown redevelopment with tax incentives and plans to turn the area--located at the junction of three rivers--into an upscale pedestrian haven. Work-force readiness is being tackled jointly by school officials and business leaders. And as with growth, continued cooperation will be key to conquering Columbia's challenges.
Middlesex / Somerset / Hunterdon (1998)
Driven by a talented labor pool and a government with a refreshingly aggressive pro-business attitude, this three-county MSA in central New Jersey has shed its reputation as the bedroom community for nearby New York City, Philadelphia and Trenton, New Jersey. The area is now a small-business powerhouse, ranking as the number-one large city in the Northeast.
Successive waves of downsizing by big corporations in the area and a large number of affluent two-income households have resulted in a flood of educated, ambitious people looking to start businesses. These businesses are filling the needs of the area's rapidly growing population; in fact, more than 20,000 service-based jobs in businesses with fewer than 100 employees were created in this MSA from 1992 to 1996. The area's proximity to many major East Coast cities has also made it an ideal location for research and development activities as well as "back office" operations of large corporations.
Although property taxes are still higher than in some states, state and local governments are working on strategies to encourage business growth. Governor Christine Todd Whitman has streamlined New Jersey's regulatory process; lowered the corporate income tax rate; and provided incentive programs to businesses that relocate from other states, pay more than the minimum wage, or offer job-skills training to their employees. At the local level, Somerset County has relaxed zoning laws to allow homebased businesses to flourish.
Contrary to popular belief, industry in the Garden State isn't all smokestacks and dump trucks. Central New Jersey is a green, semi-rural area that has attracted a wide variety of "clean" businesses, including AT&T, Merck & Co. Pharmaceuticals and Metropolitan Life insurance company. And at the rate it's growing, this region can expect more businesses to seek its greener pastures.
With just over a million people, Indianapolis, the number-one Central city, can best be described as a big little town. While its compact size promotes a sense of community, it's still large enough to provide the basis for an increasingly diverse economy that includes everything from high-tech and telecommunications businesses to agribusiness and steel production.
Indianapolis' central location also works in its favor. More than 65 percent of the U.S. population lives within a 700-mile radius of the city, and the profusion of interstate highways that intersect within it makes this city a very attractive transportation hub or base of operations.
An astoundingly low unemployment rate (2.3 percent in May) makes it hard for employers to find and keep qualified workers, and may eventually limit the city's growth. Still, Indianapolis is attempting to help everyone benefit from the strong economy. The Indiana Small Business Development Corp. brings together minority-owned businesses and large corporations seeking suppliers.
Minority businesses also receive support from the Indiana Statewide Certified Development Corp., a group of local banks, lending institutions and nonprofit organizations.
But success certainly hasn't caught Indianapolis resting on its laurels. Some 15,500 hotel rooms have been built to accommodate future visitors to the Indiana Convention Center and RCA Dome downtown, and Mayor Stephen Goldsmith has formed a High Tech Taskforce to determine ways to bring more technology companies into the city.
Corpus Christi (1998)
Call it a Texas way of thinking, but it looks a lot like an enterprising and entrepreneurial attitude. When leaders of Corpus Christi, this year's number-one midsized Central city, witnessed the decline of the city's oil and gas industries in the 1980s, hardly a moment passed before they decided to implement efforts to diversify the city's industrial base. Today, small businesses in the tourism and service sectors, as well as those taking advantage of procurement and subcontracting opportunities in the large medical, petrochemical and military industries, can thank those leaders for the thriving Corpus Christi economy.
Small businesses in Corpus Christi can take advantage of Texas' lack of state income or corporate taxes, as well as the international opportunities waiting at the city's Gulf port. To encourage international commerce, the port has been set up as a duty-free zone, and the Corpus Christi Small Business Development Center coaches small businesses on how to do business internationally.
In 1994, several local organizations, including the chamber of commerce and the Corpus Christi Bay Area Economic Development Corp., united under The Greater Corpus Christi Business Alliance. The alliance is comprised of local business, academic and political leaders who address problems within the small-business sector.
Labor shortages are countered with programs such as Smart Jobs, a job-training program subsidized by the state. The city's infrastructure has stayed up to date with an international airport and several interstate highways connecting Corpus Christi with the rest of the nation. With these factors coming into play, Corpus Christi is ready, willing and able to become an international business center.
It could very well be the Horatio Alger of U.S. cities. Just a few years ago, Lawrence, Massachusetts, had an 18 percent unemployment rate. Today, this number-one midsized Northeastern city is movin' on up, with small businesses thriving, thanks to the joint efforts of state and city governments and local organizations.
Because of changing industries and the primarily blue-collar, immigrant population, Lawrence was hit hard during the early-1990s recession. Textile manufacturers, once the major industry in the Merrimack Valley, headed south in search of areas with cheaper business costs, while higher-tech industries such as communication, semiconductor manufacturing and biotechnology moved into the area, leaving many unskilled workers unemployed. But with the state declaring Lawrence an Economic Target Area in 1994 and the city implementing new assistance programs, such as a Small Business Revolving Loan Program, unemployment is down to 5 percent, and small businesses are booming.
Large companies, like New Balance Athletic Shoe, Lucent Technologies and Malden Mills, employ most of Lawrence's citizens, with small businesses providing services for the work force, as well as component and finished-product manufacturing. To encourage entrepreneurial success, the city offers a small-business loan program, a $5,000 facade improvement grant for downtown businesses, and a tax-incentive program. Local banks are friendly to the mostly minority-owned small businesses in Lawrence, as is Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Working Capital, a nonprofit micro-lender. The state also offers tax incentives to businesses that move into the area and create jobs.
While Lawrence battles an above-average unemployment rate and some infrastructure problems, such as a lack of developable land, the city has already taken measures to solve these issues with employee training programs and interstate highway upgrades. Although Lawrence still faces some economic repair, small businesses have more than a few friends in the city and state who realize that to make Lawrence grow, entrepreneurship must also grow.
Salt Lake City (1998)
Nestled in the Salt Lake Valley and surrounded by ski country impressive enough to be host to the 2002 Winter Olympics, Salt Lake City ranked as the number-one large Mountain city this year. Although Salt Lake City has the amenities of a burgeoning metropolis, locals may be more inclined to speak of the beautiful landscape and educational opportunities. And entrepreneurs, of course, follow their lead with tourism and high-tech companies.
In a move that affected a range of industries, the Utah legislature passed a research tax credit last year--a boon to Salt Lake City, which has thriving information technology, software development and biotechnology industries. Industry giants like Gateway Inc., which opened a 1,200-employee computer manufacturing facility in September, are also drawn to this tech-friendly area, providing small businesses with subcontracting opportunities. For those who gravitate outside the research-lab arena, Salt Lake City has a $2 billion tourism industry that flourishes in the local ski resorts and Utah's five national parks.
But with growth comes some internal problems. A $1.6 billion reconstruction of Interstate 15 and a new light-rail system is currently in the works. Fortunately, although the state hovers at a 3.2 percent unemployment rate, it also boasts one of the most educated work forces in the country. Because capital can be problematic, with many venture capitalists specializing in particular industries, many small businesses get started the old-fashioned way, with the help of relatives, friends and credit cards.
Salt Lake City knows how to exploit its natural resources: an educated workforce, a booming tourism industry, and low business costs. With this kind of inspiration, we're waiting to see how much gold the United States--and Salt Lake City small businesses--will bring home in 2002.
So much ado is made about that other Washington city--you know, the one that Microsoft, coffee addicts and grunge bands put on the map--that the number-21 mid-sized Western city, Spokane, could easily get lost in the shuffle. But this, the largest city in eastern Washington, is home to an entrepreneurial environment every bit as prosperous as its lush scenery would suggest.
Consider, for instance, the strong presence of high-tech firms in Spokane. Service businesses--particularly those in the health-care industry--are also significant to the local economy. Of special interest, however, is the recent surge in manufacturing. Employment in Spokane's manufacturing base has grown roughly 3 percent during the past two years. This certainly helps put the green in this region of the Evergreen State.
Yet even as Spokane's economy moves toward greater diversification, the city's entrepreneurial resources are priding themselves on unification. In a bid for one-stop convenience, the fledgling Spokane Regional Business Center houses everything from the city's chamber of commerce to various economic development organizations and the Spokane Area Business Information Center. The latter is one of only four sites nationwide to be designated an IBM Small Business Think Center.
Naturally, there are concerns as well. Despite pressure to change it, Washington's policy of taxing companies' gross receipts remains something of a thorn in the side of entrepreneurs. Then, too, there is the delicate balance that must be struck between the heralded boom in manufacturing and the beautiful scenery local residents are so proud of. And, yes, there is migration of many of the region's young people to the high-paying (and high-profile) behemoth that Bill Gates built. The increasingly tech-savvy Spokane, however, won't let Seattle--or any other city, for that matter-rain on its parade.
Portland / Vancouver (1998)
Maybe success isn't everything it's cracked up to be. That seems to be the ultimate lesson learned from the recent experiences of the Portland/Vancouver MSA, which ranks 23rd in the West this year. A perennial winner in our best cities ranking, greater Portland has justly earned its reputation as an entrepreneurial city. Yet its much lower-place finish this year reflects not only how difficult it is to keep a winning streak going but the double-edged nature of success itself.
Had it not enjoyed such success, Portland probably wouldn't have attracted an influx of Japanese-owned firms into its city limits--geographic proximity to the Pacific Rim notwithstanding. This boon, however, makes Portland vulnerable to the effects of the current Asian economic crisis. Similarly, the high quality of life and low unemployment enjoyed in Portland draws transplants from other states--and strains city resources in the process.
Not to be discouraged, Portland's leaders and citizens are all the more determined to plan for a prosperous future. Toward that end, Portland continues work on a light-rail transit system to lessen congestion throughout the metropolitan area. Additionally, greater emphasis is being placed on school-to-work and welfare-to-work programs. And, spurred on by the not-for-profit Oregon Entrepreneurs' Forum (OEF), Portland is taking care to nurture its fast-growing companies through business mentoring as well as the Oregon Emerging Business Initiative, sponsored by the OEF.
Nicely diversified, the greater Portland economy is nevertheless rich in high-tech businesses. Again, however, clouds are appearing on the horizon; witness recent reports of a slump in this very high-tech sector. Still, as a national leader in new manufacturing jobs, Portland can hardly be counted out.
Hot States - North Carolina (1998)
In 1903, after years of investing in their technology, the Wright brothers made history near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, with the first powered, sustained and controlled airplane flight.
That strategy of long-term investment in technology has paid off again for North Carolina, making this Southern state home to several of Entrepreneur's top cities for small business. This time around, the investment in infrastructure and college and university systems that started 30 years ago, as well as a commitment in the 1970s to pursue high-tech growth, has resulted in three communities world-renowned for their respective strengths.
Research Triangle Park, comprising Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, is a perennial hotbed of technology, from biotech and software to telecommunications. The Charlotte/Gastonia, North Carolina/Rock Hill, South Carolina, area weighs in as a financial services powerhouse anchored by NationsBank, whose recent merger with Bank of America helped spotlight North Carolina's diverse industries. The Piedmont Triad of Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point, led by the Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University, adds strong medical and retail sectors to the mix.
While calculated investment in growth is at the heart of the state's success, it is bolstered by an open-arms atmosphere that makes entrepreneurs feel comfortable moving in and setting up shop. Hard-working employees and the quality of life-mild climate, picturesque coastline, majestic mountains and an abundance of leisure activities--coalesce to issue an open invitation to come and stay.
In the midst of the state's growth, North Carolinians in the more rural, eastern part of the state continue to face challenges, including high unemployment as well as poor roads and water and sewer infrastructure. Legislative remedies include the Bill Lee Act, which offers sliding-scale tax incentives to industries in the poorest areas. As part of turnaround efforts, the Northeast Partnership persuaded Nucor Corp. to build a $300 million steel recycling plant near Hertford to employ 300 people directly and another 1,000 indirectly.
Tourism is also being pushed in this area rich in natural resources, and manufacturing related to boat-building is on the rise. However, the development touted to change things the most is the new 15,300-acre Global Trans-Park, a state-of-the-art cargo transpor-tation complex expected to provide both direct and indirect employment to nearly 50,000 people during the next 20 years. In fact, one FedEx contractor has already moved into the park.
Hot States - Texas (1998)
Entrepreneurship is as much a part of Texas as longhorn cattle and the Alamo. There's a frontier sprint and willingness to take on new challenges when it comes to small business that's put a whopping seven Texas cities on our top cities list.
Appreciation for entrepreneurs is backed by business-friendly tort reform, a strong university system, moderate taxes and diversification of the economy, a necessity after the oil bust of the 1980s. Growth industries cultivated since that time vary by region. In Austin, high tech is strong, with some 500 software firms calling the city home. It's also a music mecca, evidenced by eight blocks of night clubs where folks like Lyle Lovett ply their trade.
While NAFTA has impacted the entire state, the Laredo/McAllen/Edinburg/Mission area near the Mexican border has experienced changes up close and personal. On the negative side, some firms have laid off workers and moved south of the border. However, Mexican companies are opening plants in Texas to take advantage of skilled workers, and export service businesses like freight forwarding are opening to facilitate U.S. firms exporting to Latin America via the Port of Browns-ville.
Another city benefiting from NAFTA is San Antonio, home to a growing number of trade-related businesses such as warehousing. Biotech research and development has also found a home here. Houston is an old oil town, and that wildcatter spirit still thrives, as does the importance of black gold. But now entrepreneurs there are involved in oil-related chemical exporting.
Aerospace has always had a strong presence in Dallas and Fort Worth/Arlington, and that continues. Tourism, Texas' number-three industry, is still growing strong statewide, thanks to destinations like Six Flags' Fiesta Texas, the Alamo and Sea World.
Like other areas on this year's list, the good news in Texas is tempered by obstacles, including a high-school dropout rate approaching 30 percent, the perception in some areas that the work force is not well-educated, and the fear that as the economy grows, politicians will begin to impose burdensome regulations on business. Efforts to tackle the work-force problem include revamping regional private industry councils into local work-force boards, and integrating education and job preparedness from early grades through college.
If Texans can attack their challenges with the same verve they use to support entrepreneurs, it will be only a matter of time before their problems are defeated.
Hot States - Florida (1998)
For years, folks have flocked to Florida to have fun in the sun--and then never left. Many of these transplants are affluent retirees and ex-military personnel who find themselves starting second careers and businesses, adding to the vibrancy of the Sunshine State's economy. They've also helped put five Florida cities on Entrepreneur's list of the top regions for small business. What distinguishes Florida's cities from the rest of the cities on the list is that megacorporations and the resulting outsourcing activities have not been the primary reason for growth. Florida's economy is built on small business--98 percent of companies there have less than 100 employees.
Many of these firms are involved in tourism, which has long been and remains the state's number-one industry. International trade is also strong because of Florida's coastal location, diverse population, and sophisticated air and port operations. Interest in aerospace in this capital of space aviation is bound to grow, thanks to newly enacted tax incentives and sales exemptions for aviation supply companies.
While tourism, trade and aerospace are strong statewide, the small-business-friendly cities on our list have additional strengths. Fort Lauderdale has seen many business and professional services join the yachting and high-tech companies already in place. In Pensacola and Jacksonville, military retirees are translating their expertise into civilian consulting firms for small manufacturers.
The Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater MSA is nurturing information technology, particularly in the microelectronics, silicone-based technology, bio-medical and software development fields. And Orlando has benefited from huge capital investments by Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and other theme parks.
While the living is easy in Florida and business is growing, capital may not be as free flowing. Before this year, there were few government-sponsored programs, not much venture capital, and not one major bank based in the state. But the 1997-98 legislative session yielded the Florida Small Business Technology Growth Fund and the Certified Capital Company Act, the latter designed to stimulate venture capital investment in small emerging firms by offering incentives to investors. These programs were pushed hard by Enterprise Florida, the public-private partnership that replaced the state's Department of Commerce in 1996, and the organization Floridians expect to maintain their thriving economy.
By The Numbers
Ok, so you've gotten a taste of this year's ranking. Now, undoubtedly, you're poised on the edge of your seat, awaiting explanation as to how we determined which spots are the hottest for entrepreneurship.
There are five basic categories we assess: entrepreneurial activity, small-business growth, economic growth, risk (cities with the lowest business failure rates) and relative costs of doing business. But we made some important changes for the 1998 ranking. "This year, we made the [list] more truly focused on small business," says Hess. To do this, we factored in the number of businesses within MSAs that were 5 years old or less and measured employment growth among small firms (for this ranking, defined as those with fewer than 20 employees).
In previous years, we gave more weight in the overall ranking to corporate tax rates and the cost of living. This year, these two factors, in addition to the average wage, were combined into an overall relative-cost rating. Naturally, though, the process is not nearly as interesting as the picture of entrepreneurship it produces. Over the next 10 pages, we'll point you in the direction of small business's happening places, region by region.
About Dun & Bradstreet
Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), with the world's largest business information database, tracks 49 million companies worldwide, 11 million in the United States alone. Businesses use D&B's services to find new customers and evaluate their creditworthiness, identify potential suppliers, and collect overdue receivables.
Through face-to-face and telephone interviews and public-records searches, more than 200 million financial transactions are added annually to D&B's files in the United States alone. D&B updates its information base continually--more than 750,000 times each business day.
When businesses are entered into the D&B database, they are issued D-U-N-S numbers (similar to Social Security numbers for companies). The U.S. federal government requires companies to have this number to bid for government contracts. Also used by the United Nations and the European Union, the D&B D-U-N-S number is quickly becoming the universal standard for identifying businesses on the World Wide Web as well.
For more information about D&B, call (800) 234-3867 or visit the D&B Web site at http://www.dnb.com. To register for a D-U-N-S number, call (800) 333-0505.
Top 20 Large Cities (1998)
1. Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC
2. Jacksonville, FL
3. Orlando, FL
4. Atlanta, GA
5. Charlotte/Gastonia/Rock Hill, NC/SC
6. Indianapolis, IN
7. Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point, NC
8. Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater, FL
9. San Antonio, TX
10. Salt Lake City/Ogden, UT
11. Memphis, TN/AR/MS
12. Fort Lauderdale, FL
13. Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Newport News, VA/NC
14. Austin/San Marcos, TX
15. Fort Worth/Arlington, TX
16. Phoenix/Mesa, AZ
17. Nashville, TN
18. Las Vegas, NV/AZ
19. Dallas, TX
20. Houston, TX
Top 5 Cities By Region (1998)
Top 5 Central Cities
1. Indianapolis, IN (6*)
2. San Antonio, TX (9)
3. Austin/San Marcos, TX (14)
4. Fort Worth/Arlington, TX (15)
5. Dallas, TX (19)
Top 5 West Cities
1. Portland/Vancouver, OR/WA (23*)
2. Seattle/Bellevue/Everett, WA (28)
3. San Jose, CA (31)
4. Riverside/San Bernardino, CA (34)
5. San Diego, CA (39)
Top 5 Southeast Cities
1. Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC (1*)
2. Jacksonville, FL (2)
3. Orlando, FL (3)
4. Atlanta, GA (4)
5. Charlotte/Gastonia/Rock Hill, NC/SC (5)
Top 5 Northeast Cities
1. Middlesex/Somerset/Hunterdon, NJ (25*)
2. Monmouth/Ocean, NJ (35)
3. New York, NY (41)
4. Pittsburgh, PA (43)
5. Boston, MA/NH (45)
Top 4 Mountain Cities
1. Salt Lake City/Ogden, UT (10*)
2. Phoenix/Mesa, AZ (16)
3. Las Vegas, NV/AZ (18)
4. Denver, CO (33)
Best Bets Rankings (1998)
Best Bets for small-business growth
1. Charlotte/Gastonia/Rock Hill, NC/SC (5*)
2. Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Newport News, VA/NC (13)
3. Memphis, TN/AR/MS (11)
4. Cincinnati, OH/KY/IN (21)
5. Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC (1)
Best Bets for entrepreneurial activity
1. Monmouth/Ocean, NJ (35*)
2. Las Vegas, NV/AZ (18)
2. Salt Lake City/Ogden, UT (10)
4. Orlando, FL (3)
5. Austin/San Marcos, TX (14)
5. San Antonio, TX (9)
Best Bets for lowest relative costs
1. San Antonio, TX (9*)
2. Oklahoma City, OK (36)
2. Fort Worth/Arlington, TX (15)
4. New Orleans, LA (24)
5. Houston, TX (20)
5. Memphis, TN/AR/MS (11)
5. Salt Lake City/Ogden, UT (10)
5. Indianapolis, IN (6)
Best Bets for lowest relative costs
1. San Antonio, TX (9*)
2. Oklahoma City, OK (36)
2. Fort Worth/Arlington, TX (15)
4. New Orleans, LA (24)
5. Houston, TX (20)
5. Memphis, TN/AR/MS (11)
5. Salt Lake City/Ogden, UT (10)
5. Indianapolis, IN (6)
Best Bets for economic growth
1. New York, NY (41*)
1. Las Vegas, NV/AZ (18)
3. Phoenix/Mesa, AZ (16)
4. San Jose, CA (31)
5. Orlando, FL (3)
5. Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC (1)
Best Bets Cities with the lowest failure rates
1. New Orleans, LA (24*)
2. Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point, NC (7)
3. Washington, DC/MD/VA/WV (32)
4. Fort Lauderdale, FL (12)
5. Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC (1)
Research by Steve Hess, Courtney Shipman, Doina Rares and Mike Azzi at Dun & Bradstreet, and Liza Potter, research editor at Entrepreneur magazine; text by Debra Phillips, Cynthia E. Griffin, Elaine W. Teague, G. David Doran and Laura Tiffany.
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