For aspiring business owners, the shortlist of cities in which to launch or grow their business is often surprisingly short: Silicon Valley, New York, L.A., maybe Seattle. But the usual suspects are not necessarily a perfect fit for every business.
What other U.S. cities should budding entrepreneurs consider for their home base? We’ve crunched the numbers on key indicators—average cost of living, access to investment capital and local talent pool, among others—to find five cities that have everything it takes to nurture a growing business:
Known to many as an unavoidable layover destination, Dallas-Forth Worth metro has been on a 30-year hot streak. The region, dubbed “The Metroplex,” is the fastest-growing metro in the nation. Public companies AT&T and Tenet Healthcare got their start in the area.
- Main industries: Communications, energy
- Metro population: 7,233,000
- Number of university graduates: 80,620
- Median cost of single-family home: $227,100
- Metro venture capital (VC) investment: $734,000,000
- Share of total U.S. VC investment: 2.19%
Even though the Windy City’s population has been eclipsed by Los Angeles, the city, for many, will always affectionately be the nation’s second city. Famous for its stockyards and illicit businesses during Prohibition, Chicago is now an economic powerhouse that’s helped launch the likes of Walgreens, Boeing and State Farm into the Fortune 500.
- Main industries: Transportation, finance, manufacturing
- Metro population: 9,513,000
- Number of university graduates: 153,195
- Median cost of single-family home: $234,900
- Metro VC investment: $650,000,000
- Share of total U.S. VC investment: 1.94%
A major point of entry for Latin Americans, the Miami-Dade County metro is an irreplicable combination of cultural verve, economic vibrancy and sunny weather. The city consistently ranks near the top of quality-of-life rankings in the U.S.
- Main industries: Tourism, transportation
- Metro population: 2,712,000
- Number of university graduates: 98,502
- Median cost of single-family home: $305,000
- Metro VC investment: $329,000,000
- Share of total U.S. VC investment: 0.98%
Few cities have undergone the contemporary boom of Atlanta, having rightly earned its informal moniker as the “Capital of the South.” Universities like Georgia Tech and Emory, along with Fortune 500 firms Coca-Cola and Delta, serve as critical anchors for an increasingly vital hub of the American economy.
- Main industry: Transportation, utilities
- Population: 5,789,000
- Number of university graduates: 61,199
- Median cost of single-family home: $184,500
- Metro VC investment: $514,000,000
- Share of total U.S. VC investment: 1.53%
No longer content to live in the shadow of its northern neighbor, Philadelphia has recently begun attracting New Yorkers who want easy access to the largest metro region in the nation without paying exorbitant rents. Philly boasts an internationally recognized music scene, some of the world’s best art collections, and a robust healthcare and R&D sector.
- Main industries: Healthcare, education
- Population: 6,070,000
- Number of university graduates: 101,218
- Median cost of single-family home: $225,400
- Metro VC investment: $495,000,000
- Share of total U.S. VC investment: 1.48%
Sources: Population figures from American FactFinder and U.S. Census Bureau (2016 estimates); number of university graduates from Data USA; median single-family home cost from the National Association of Realtors (figures based on 2016 sale prices); metro and national venture capital figures from CityLab (2016 figures).