The 10 Best Cities to Start a Business A new report ranks the top cities for startups based on lending, business friendliness, hiring pool and local economy.

By Jenna Goudreau

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Shutterstock

A brilliant business idea means nothing if you can't get it off the ground. For aspiring entrepreneurs looking for ample funding and a fertile environment to strike out on their own, a new report from personal finance website NerdWallet ranks the 10 best cities to start a business in the U.S.

To gauge the health of small-business lending in each city, NerdWallet analyzed business loans made by community banks in 2012. The researchers also considered business friendliness and assessed the local economies based on the average income of residents, the unemployment rate and the cost of living. Education levels and population growth measured available talent.

Each with two cities on the list, Oklahoma and Texas are featured prominently. Offering affordable living and plenty of financing, the regions may be up-and-coming entrepreneurial hotbeds.

Related: The Best and Worst U.S. Cities to Launch a Business

Shutterstock

No. 10: Omaha, Neb.

Small-business lending in 2012: $51.9 million
Businesses per 100 residents: 8.1
Average income: $26,113
Population growth rate: 1.5 percent

Shutterstock

No. 9: Houston, Texas

Small-business lending in 2012: $250.5 million
Businesses per 100 residents: 9.9
Average income: $26,849
Population growth rate: 2.2 percent

Shutterstock

No. 8: Minneapolis, Minn.

Small-business lending in 2012: $52.6 million
Businesses per 100 residents: 10.4
Average income: $30,693
Population growth rate: 1.4 percent

Shutterstock

No. 7: Seattle, Wash.

Small-business lending in 2012: $41.1 million
Businesses per 100 residents: 12.5
Average income: $41,695
Population growth rate: 2 percent

Shutterstock

No. 6: Tampa, Fla.

Small-business lending in 2012: $79.2 million
Businesses per 100 residents: 11.5
Average income: $28,863
Population growth rate: 3.1 percent

Shutterstock

No. 5: Oklahoma City, Okla.

Small-business lending in 2012: $118.5 million
Businesses per 100 residents: 10.3
Average income: $25,450
Population growth rate: 2.1 percent

Shutterstock

No. 4: Tulsa, Okla.

Small-business lending in 2012: $125.5 million
Businesses per 100 residents: 10.7
Average income: $26,727
Population growth rate: 1.2 percent

Shutterstock

No. 3: Austin, Texas

Small-business lending in 2012: $28.4 million
Businesses per 100 residents: 10.8
Average income: $31,170
Population growth rate: 3.8 percent

Shutterstock

No. 2: Raleigh, N.C.

Small-business lending in 2012: $43.9 million
Businesses per 100 residents: 10.5
Average income: $30,377
Population growth rate: 3.1 percent

Shutterstock

No. 1: Atlanta, Ga.

Small-business lending in 2012: $62.2 million
Businesses per 100 residents: 9.8
Average income: $35,884
Population growth rate: 3 percent

Jenna Goudreau is a senior editor at Business Insider and oversees the Strategy, Careers, and Your Money sections.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Side Hustle

The Side Hustle She Started in Her Princeton Dorm Room Led to a $510 Million Business: 'Don't Take No for an Answer'

Danielle Cohen-Shohet launched a successful side hustle in college, combining her love for design and entrepreneurship, which ultimately led to GlossGenius.

Leadership

10 Leadership Lessons From Successful CEOs — An Insightful Guide for the Ambitious Entrepreneur

Valuable lessons you can learn from successful CEOs like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

Growing a Business

This Co-Founder Was Kicked Out of Retailers for Pitching a 'Taboo' Beauty Product. Now, Her Multi-Million-Dollar Company Sells It for More Than $20 an Ounce.

Childhood friends and Harvard grads Laura Schubert and Lillian Tung launched Fur to address the problem no one was talking about.

Business News

'My Back Already Hurts': Critics Think Southwest Airlines' Newly Redesigned Seats Are Too 'Thin'

Southwest Airlines debuted its new RECARO seating for passengers last week.