Special Report

The Best Small Cities to Start a Business

Most entrepreneurs set their sights on a big city to launch their startup for the visibility and access to resources like investment capital and workers found in major metropolitans. The tradeoff being generally higher costs of doing business in a large metro area. But for those hearty entrepreneurs, that’s a price they’re willing to pay.

Yet smaller cities offer advantages that make them fertile ground for building a new company, as well. Lower operating costs means the business’ startup costs aren’t eaten away by rent or salaries. Attracting talent isn’t as much of a problem because workers can be lured in by affordable housing prices and the slower pace of life in a smaller city. Working in a less bustling urban environment also does away with the hellish commutes workers have to deal with in a large city. (These are the world’s worst cities for traffic.)

To identify the 50 best small cities to start a business, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from WalletHub, which ranked 1,337 U.S. cities. So if you’re looking to start a new business, where’s the best small city to plant your flag? In Utah. 

Twenty-two cities in Utah rank on this list, including No.1 and No. 2 — St. George in the southwestern part of the state and Cedar City, which is 250 miles south of Salt Lake City. It’s not surprising these Utah cities took the top spots. Statewide, U.S. News & World Report ranked Utah No. 3 on its annual list of Best States. 

Both Utah cities sport unemployment rates well below the national rate of 5.4%, indicative of a strong economy. Each has a university within its borders: Southern Utah University in Cedar City and Dixie State University in St. George. And since it’s not all about work, in your leisure time, you can visit nearby Zion National Park from both cities. Even better, neither city is the most expensive city to live in Utah.

Click here to see the best small cities to start a business.

To identify the best small cities to start a business, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from WalletHub, which ranked 1,337 U.S. cities across three key dimensions: 1) business environment, 2) access to resources, and 3) business costs. The three dimensions were evaluated using 20 relevant metrics like startups per capita for business environment, financing accessibility for access to resources, and cost of living for business costs to name a few. The cities included have populations between 25,000 and 100,000 (in the city proper and not the surrounding metro area).

24/7 Wall St. added population estimates and median household income from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey as well as 2019 seasonally-adjusted estimates for June 2021 unemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.