Special Report

Best American Cities for Business

5. Dallas-Fort Worth, Tex.
> GDP: $324.90 billion
> Unemployment: 7.4%
> Median Income: $54,448

The Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan region is one of the few that remained strong during the worst years of the recession, losing just 5% of total jobs from its peak. It has since gained back those jobs and more. The city has an unemployment rate of just 7.4%, well below the national average of 8.3%. Dallas-Fort Worth has particularly strong cost advantages for utilities and facilities, which contribute to its high competitive ranking. According to the study, the metro region has the lowest business costs in the country in aerospace, electronics, medical devices and pharmaceutical manufacturing, with the biggest causes for this being low transportation and leasing costs in these sectors.

4. Tampa, Fla.
> GDP: $117.23 billion
> Unemployment: 9.9%
> Median Income: $43,546

Like most of the state of Florida, the Tampa metropolitan region was hit hard during the recession. The city lost 11% of its working population, and had only recovered 34% of lost jobs as of the fourth quarter of last year. Home prices fell nearly 50% from their peak and still have a long way to recover. According to KPMG, Tampa’s biggest strengths as a destination for affordable business are its lowest labor costs among the 27 cities as well as its low leasing prices, both of which are the result of declining values during the recession. According to the report, Tampa had the best rating for professional and support services.

3. Orlando, Fla.
> GDP: $104.65 billion
> Unemployment: 9.5%
> Median Income: $46,477

Like Tampa and the majority of Florida’s major cities, Orlando’s housing and job markets were hit hard by the housing crash and recession. Median home value fell 53.5% from peak prices in the first quarter of 2006, the fifth worst of the largest U.S. cities. The metropolitan region ranks has the most attractive location in four of the 19 measured business types, including digital entertainment, software design and biotech. According to the report, Orlando benefits in these sectors from competitive costs for salaries and wages and affordable employee benefit plans.

2. Atlanta, Ga.
> GDP: $249.73 billion
> Unemployment: 9.2%
> Median Income: $53,181

The study ranks the Atlanta metro region fourth or better in 14 of the 19 measured businesses, including second best for automotive and aerospace manufacturing. The city also has emerging biotech, computer parts and telecommunications industries. According to the report, Atlanta’s standing in these industries was improved by low costs for transportation, gas and factory space, and low costs for employee benefits. Atlanta also was rated in the top 50% for corporate tax rates for both mature and new businesses, according to the Tax Foundation.

1. Cincinnati, Ohio
> GDP: $94.73 billion
> Unemployment: 8.4%
> Median Income: $51,576

KPMG ranked Cincinnati as the most competitive city for business among the 27 largest metropolitan regions in the U.S. According to the Tax Foundation’s study of 51 large cities in the U.S., Cincinnati ranks as ninth best for new business and seventh best for established corporations. The city is best for costs in agri-foods, auto manufacturing, plastics and green energy. According to the report, these companies in the city benefit from low transportation costs and affordable prices for facility leasing.

-Michael B. Sauter

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