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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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