Best Cities for Small Business


Our 12th annual Hot Cities report will give you the lowdown on the nation's most dynamic cities for entrepreneurs.


1. Phoenix-Mesa, AZ

1 / 10

2. Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC

2 / 10

3. Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC

3 / 10

4. Las Vegas, NV

4 / 10

5. Austin-San Marcos, TX

5 / 10

6. Washington-Baltimore, DC-MD-VA-WV

6 / 10

7. Memphis, TN

7 / 10

8. Nashville, TN

8 / 10

9. Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News, VA-NC

9 / 10

10. San Antonio, TX

10 / 10
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Whether you're looking to expand, relocate or simply stay put, our quick guide to the top 10 best cities for entrepreneurship offers a snapshot view of these entrepreneurial hot spots. With information on population, median home price, hot industries and more, you'll see why new businesses are booming in these areas. We also uncover the number of significant startups--companies in these areas with five or more employees that started between four and 14 years ago and are still in business--to show you just how well these regions have helped foster, grow and keep entrepreneurs in business.

Population: 3,250,000
Median Home Price: $268,300
Hot Industries: Service,construction, high tech and aerospace
Significant Startups: 12,388

Why Start Here?

  • Numerous 20- to 39-year-olds moving from California to Phoenix
  • Low commercial rents and plenty of available land
  • The city of Phoenix helps guarantee SBA loans through its Expansion Assistance and Development (EXPAND) program
  • Sunny, outdoorsy lifestyle
  • "There's a lot of opportunity for new businesses because of the population growth, especially in sectors [such as] real estate, food service, tourism and relocation businesses" 13 Lee McPheters, Arizona State University business school dean

Chamber of Commerce:

Population: 1,500,000
Median Home Price: $174,500
Hot Industries: Finance, food manufacturing, textiles, machinery, computer/electronics, paper, printing, chemical, plastics and rubber
Significant Startups: 5,686

Why Start Here?
22 Steady immigration of young, educated workers
22 Business-friendly banking community
22 High-quality labor force and low-cost labor environment
22 Unemployment insurance, tax rates and worker's compensation rates that rank among the lowest in the nation
22 Charlotte is the only U.S. city to participate in the Cities of Tomorrow network: It was chosen for its quality of life and has been used as a model for cities worldwide.

Chamber of Commerce:

Population: 1,190,000
Median Home Price: $199,600
Hot Industries: Life sciences, information technology and software development
Significant Startups: 4,899

Why Start Here?

  • No local income taxes
  • The William S. Lee Quality Jobs and Expansion Act gives qualifying companies tax credits for job creation, investment in machinery and equipment, worker training, research and development, and investment in business property.
  • More than 40% of the adult population holds a bachelor's degree or higher.
  • A unique technology community, Centennial Campus, blends public, academic and private-sector research and is the only public-private partnership of its kind in the US

Chamber of Commerce:

Population: 1,560,000
Median Home Price: $317,900
Hot Industries: Hotel and resort, tourism, gaming, construction and retail
Significant Startups: 6,853

Why Start Here?

  • 35 million tourists a year
  • Has led the nation in job growth for 13 consecutive quarters
  • No corporate income, franchise, inventory or unitary taxes for businesses
  • No personal income tax
  • Nevada's population is growing faster than any other state's.

Chamber of Commerce:

Population: 1,250,000
Median Home Price: $167,200
Hot Industries: Technology and business services
Significant Startups: 5,469

Why Start Here?

  • Diverse, highly trained and readily available employees
  • No personal or corporate state income tax
  • Minimal union activity
  • Eight area colleges and universities with renowned academic programs and enrollment of more than 114,000 students

Chamber of Commerce:

Population: 7,610,000
Median Home Price: $422,500
Hot Industries: Government contracting, tech and tourism
Significant Startups: 27,464

Why Start Here?

  • A boom in the redevelopment of blighted neighborhoods has created a lot of entrepreneurial opportunity.
  • High growth in government-related contracting opportunities
  • Robust metropolitan population growth
  • Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University gets the most federal research dollars of any U.S. university.

Chamber of Commerce:

Population: 1,140,000
Median Home Price: $135,900
Hot Industries: Logistics, biomedical, research, information technology, food processing, hospitality, tourism and manufacturing
Significant Startups: 3,407

Why Start Here?

  • A countywide program offers legal and accounting assistance to small businesses to help them apply for government contracts.
  • Access to the world's busiest cargo airport
  • $2.3 billion tourism industry with the third-largest casino cluster in the nation
  • Has more historic listings per capita that any city in America
  • Cost of living is 10 percent lower than the U.S. average

Chamber of Commerce:

Population: 1,230,000
Median Home Price: $165,300
Hot Industries: Automotive, manufacturing, technology, distribution/warehouse, health care and call centers
Significant Startups: 4,441

Why Start Here?

  • Low tax burden
  • A major center for entrepreneurial health-care companies
  • 21 accredited four-year and postgraduate institutions in the area
  • 44.9 percent of adults at least 25 years old have one or more years of college education
  • It's the world headquarters of religious publishing.

Chamber of Commerce:

Population: 1,570,000
Median Home Price: $221,100
Hot Industries: Maritime and military
Significant Startups: 3,860

Why Start Here?

  • The Business Visitation Program, a business retention program, keeps Newport News businesses informed about opportunities for growth and expansion.
  • Access to what's known as the "world's greatest natural harbor"
  • Home to major Naval and Air Force facilities
  • Home to Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement, and to Colonial Williamsburg, both popular tourist spots
  • Competitively priced land and buildings provide many options for business startup, expansion and relocation

Chamber of Commerce:

Population: 1,590,000
Median Home Price: $133,400
Hot Industries: Aerospace, biosciences, information technology, telecommunications, logistics and manufacturing
Significant Startups: 4,399

Why Start Here?

  • Free Trade Alliance San Antonio assists firms in exploring, developing and expanding international business.
  • San Antonio Technology Accelerator Initiative, a network of institutions, individuals and resources, is dedicated to growing technology and entrepreneurship in the region.
  • Businesses can receive Empowerment Zone tax credits.
  • San Antonio Business Assistance Focus Center provides comprehensive business development services.

Chamber of Commerce:

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