Top states to raise funds and grow a business in 2016

Money to grow on
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Ready to take your business to the next level? You're going to need funding, and money flows to some states more than others. Our Access to Capital category in America's Top States for Business, worth 50 possible points, ranks all 50 states based on venture capital investments in the past year, as well as small-business lending both in absolute dollars and on a per-employee basis. You can read our full study and see our methodology here. These 10 states are America's tops for access to capital.

10. Washington
Pike Place market in Seattle Washington.
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Of course the home of Microsoft and Amazon has a robust tech community, but the state also actively supports small businesses. The state Commerce Department's Collateral Support Program provides bridge loans to small businesses seeking financing, and the state's $18.5 million W Fund links early stage tech and life science companies with universities and research centers. (Pictured here: Pike Place market in Seattle)

2016 Access to Capital score: 41 out of 50 points
2015 venture capital investments: $1.2 billion
Small-business lending (2012): $4.6 billion
Key industries: Aerospace, Agriculture, Information Technology

9. Ohio
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It may have a reputation as the buckle of the Rust Belt, but Ohio is nurturing its high tech, health care, and life sciences sectors, and bringing in lots of money as a result. Ohio's innovative Third Frontier Program links tech companies large and small, allowing them to share knowledge, find qualified workers, and secure needed financing.

2016 Access to Capital score: 42 out of 50 points
2015 venture capital investments: $263 million
Small-business lending (2012): $8.2 billion
Key industries: Manufacturing, health care, life sciences

8. Colorado
Topher Donahue | Getty Images

For years Colorado has been cultivating a well-deserved reputation as a high-tech and clean-energy hub. The economy is increasingly diverse, and programs to develop and grow small business are many. The Advanced Industries Accelerator Program nurtures companies in seven targeted, cutting-edge industries. (Pictured here: A solar subdivision in Colorado)

2016 Access to Capital score: 43 out of 50 points
2015 venture capital investments: $791.8 million
Small-business lending (2012): $4 billion
Key industries: Advanced manufacturing, aerospace, defense

7. Texas
Colourful retro shopping strip of South Congress, or SoCo, in Austin, Texas. South Congress is the 'hipster' part of Austin where there are lots of bars, restaurants, cafes, shops and live music.
Kylie McLaughlin | Getty Images

Everything truly is bigger in Texas, and that includes money. Not only is Texas home to major corporations including AT&T and ExxonMobil, but the Texas Economic Development Corporation says 2.2 million small businesses call Texas home. The Jobs for Texas (J4T) program, backed by a $46 million federal grant, helps Texas-based businesses with 500 or fewer employees access the capital they need to expand. (Pictured here: The colorful retro shopping strip of South Congress, or SoCo, in Austin)

2016 Access to Capital score: 44 out of 50 points
2015 venture capital investments: $1.17 billion
Small-business lending (2012): $15 billion
Key industries: Advanced manufacturing, energy, biotech

6. Georgia
LightRocket | Getty Images

Georgia's economic development efforts for small businesses don't end with helping them access capital. The University of Georgia's Small Business Development Center helps entrepreneurs be smarter about borrowing and financing. The center will help you determine how much funding you need, then steer you toward the best programs to obtain it. (Pictured here: The bulldog statues in Athens, Georgia, were initially produced to raise money for charity. Local businesses have since bought them and repainted them to reflect their company.)

2016 Access to Capital score: 45 out of 50 points
2015 venture capital investments: $837 million
Small-business lending (2012): $6 billion
Key industries: Agribusiness, defense, logistics

5. New Jersey
Jersey City, New Jersey.
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Money doesn't exactly grow on trees in the Garden State, but New Jersey offers a host of financing assistance for business looking to expand. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority has partnered with 26 so-called Premier Lenders who will guarantee up to 50 percent of certain qualified small-business loans. (Pictured here: Jersey City, the second most populous city in New Jersey after Newark)

2016 Access to Capital score: 46 out of 50 points
2015 venture capital investments: $978 million
Small-business lending (2012): $6.6 billion
Key industries: Manufacturing, life sciences

4. Michigan
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder speaks at the Commonwealth Club on October 1, 2015 in San Francisco, California.
Getty Images

Perhaps it is no coincidence that a state whose Governor, Rick Snyder, is a former venture capitalist has become a center for business capital. But Michigan's real strength is in financing small businesses. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation offers an online "Capital Locator Tool" that can get you started finding the funding you need. (Pictured here: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder speaking at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco)

2016 Access to Capital score: 47 out of 50 points
2015 venture capital investments: $328 million
Small-business lending (2012): $8 billion
Key industries: Automotive, aerospace, water technology

2. (Tie) North Carolina
Source: First Flight Adventure Park

In a state with a rich heritage of knowledge-based businesses, the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center is a one-stop shop to link entrepreneurs with venture capital, private equity and angel investors. The North Carolina Rural Center's Rural Venture Fund targets businesses seeking to expand in the states' 40 neediest counties. (Pictured here: First Flight Adventure Park in Nags Head, North Carolina)

2016 Access to Capital score: 49 out of 50 points
2015 venture capital investments: $710.4 million
Small-business lending (2012): $7.16 billion
Key industries: Financial services, food processing, information technology

2. (Tie) California
Kevin Albert, co-founder and chief executive officer at Pneubotics, a division of Otherlab, demonstrates the dexterity of an inflatable robot at the company's office in San Francisco, California. Companies like Pneubotics are creating alternatives that, if they work, could bring the productivity of robots to more industries, including construction, warehousing and agriculture.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The home of Silicon Valley and some of the world's leading venture capital firms, California has practically turned access to capital into an art form. Small businesses get support here, too. The California Capital Access program helps small businesses meet their collateral requirements by pledging up to 40 percent of the value of the loan. (Pictured here: Kevin Albert, co-founder and CEO of Pneubotics, a division of Otherlab, in San Francisco)

2016 Access to Capital score: 49 out of 50 points
2015 venture capital investments: $34.2 billion
Small-business lending (2012): $24 billion
Key industries: Technology, agriculture, defense

1. Illinois
Non-GMO corn is harvested with a John Deere 9670 STS combine harvester in this aerial photograph taken above Malden, Illinois.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Illinois has long had a diverse business base, from manufacturing, technology and high finance in and around Chicago to a huge agribusiness industry downstate. The state itself is a major lender. The Illinois Finance Authority says it finances about $3 billion in business activity each year, issuing bonds, making loans and investing in businesses and nonprofits. (Pictured here: Non-GMO corn is harvested on a Malden, Illinois, farm)

2016 Access to Capital score: 50 out of 50 points
2015 venture capital investments: $1.08 billion
Small-business lending (2012): $9.8 billion
Key industries: Agribusiness, logistics, energy

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