The Best Big Cities for Starting a Business? They're Almost All Down South

Monday, May 13, 2019

The top U.S. city for entrepreneurs boasts cool breezes, white-sand beaches, and attractive economic conditions for businesses.

Entrepreneurs in Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida, may be in a better position to start a business than those located in Silicon Valley or New York City.

Orlando, which is perhaps best known for its Disney attractions, has the best environment for startups, according to the new report while Tampa ranked at #5 and St. Petersburg fell just short of the Top 10 at #14. The personal finance website WalletHub recently compared 100 of the U.S.'s biggest cities--where population density measures at least 300,000--across three dimensions: business environment, access to resources, and business costs. WalletHub assessed those factors based on 19 metrics, including five-year business survival rate, office-space affordability, and job growth, and it only considered cities, excluding surrounding metropolitan areas. 

Cities were ranked #1-100. You can look below and see that Florida is showing up strong for businesses.


Source: WalletHub


Orlando also hit No. 9 on Inc.'s list of Surge Cities, showcasing the U.S. cities with the most economic momentum for startups. While Tourism and construction have been major drivers of the local economy, the tech industry has been growing thanks in part to the more than 200 aerospace and aviation companies located within the city limits. What's more, Orlando has made recent efforts to cultivate early-stage startups by opening accelerator programs, new seed funds, and co-working spaces. However, as the WalletHub report also points out, the city lacks access to resources compared to other U.S. cities. 

Orlando is just one of nine southern cities in WalletHub's top 10, showing that startups in the south boast more favorable conditions than those in the north. Oklahoma City is ranked second, while Miami and Tampa take the third and fifth spots, respectively. North Carolina cities like Charlotte, Durham, and Raleigh are ranked sixth, seventh, and eighth, respectively. The city in fourth place on the WalletHub list is Austin, which ranked as the No. 1 city for starting a business in Inc.'s Surge Cities. 

The south boasts not only a thriving business climate and relatively low cost of doing business, but also some of the highest average startup rates in the U.S. Miami, for instance, has 235 startups per 100,000 residents. That's more than any other big city WalletHub canvased.

To be sure, the south isn't the only U.S. startup haven. California remains a juggernaut, with 17 cities, including San Francisco, which was ranked No. 44 on WalletHub's list of 100 top big cities to start a business. Midwestern cities are also hospitable environments for startups: Chicago, Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Madison, Wisconsin made the list.

By Emily Canal for