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Raleigh Ranked #1 City in the U.S. to Start a Business

A new report by LendingTree highlights the statistical data of the county’s largest metro areas, and the relative effort it takes to start a new business within them.

“It’s definitely a challenging time to start a small business, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it,” said Matt Schulz, LendingTree chief credit analyst. “There are always going to be things that you can’t predict. The truth, however, is that you have a good idea, a thoughtful plan, adequate funding and a willingness to take the risk and put in the world, any time can be a good time to get started.”

LendingTree looked at nine metro- and state-based metrics, from the proportion of self-employed residents to unemployment rates to one-year business survival rates – across the 100 largest U.S. metros by population.

Key Findings

• North Carolina offers the best places to start a small business. Raleigh tops the list, with Charlotte (No. 3) and Durham (No. 4) closely behind. 54.8% of Raleigh’s population is in their prime working years between ages 25 and 54, ninth-highest among the 100 metros. Austin, Texas, is No. 2.

• The South dominates the top 10 places to start a small business. The South has five metros in the top 10m while Western and Midwestern states occupy the other five slots.

• California offers the worst places to start a small business. Three Golden State metros — Bakersfield, Stockton and Fresno — take the bottom spots, while Riverside also places in the bottom 10. Bakersfield has the highest unemployment rate — 10.7% — among the 100 metros. It also has the lowest percentage of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree — 17.1% — among the metros.

• The West dominates the bottom 10 places to start a small business. Honolulu joins the four California metros in the bottom 10, while Midwestern and Northeastern states take the other five spots

Raleigh Tops the List!

The Raleigh metro area stands out as the best place to start a small business. Here are the main highlights about North Carolina’s capital city:

• It has the seventh-highest proportion of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree — 48%, compared with an average of 34.5% across the 100 metros.

• Nearly 55% of its population is in their prime working years between ages 25 and 54, good enough for ninth among the 100 metros.

• Its unemployment rate was 3.9% in July 2021 — the latest available at the time of research — nearly two percentage points lower than the U.S. rate of 5.7%.

Ahead of the other North Carolina metros is Austin, Texas, which sits in second. Just 21.4% of residents’ income goes toward housing costs — the highest rate is 27.6% in Miami — so there may be more opportunities to invest in creating a new business.

Top 10 places to start a small business
No. 1Raleigh, NC
No. 2Austin, TX
No. 3Charlotte, NC
No. 4Durham, NC
No. 5Boise, ID
No. 6Minneapolis, MN
No. 7Portland, OR
No. 8Salt Lake City, UT
No. 9Nashville, TN
No. 10St. Louis, MO

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