Small-town living has its advantages – and sometimes, that includes a surprising amount of resources and below-average costs for your side hustle or start-up dreams.
That's the case for a handful of cities with 50,000 to 75,000 people, according to Verizon Small Business' fifth annual rankings of the best small U.S. cities to start a small business. From Logan, Utah, to Missoula, Montana, the list's top 10 features cities with low corporate tax rates, low commute times for workers and high incomes per capita.
Verizon also considered availability of business loans, percentage of city residents with at least a bachelor's degree and high-speed internet availability – pulling data from the 2020 Census, U.S. Small Business Administration and Tax Foundation think tank, rather than Verizon's own metrics – for the 333 small cities it examined.
Here's the top 10:
- Logan, Utah
- Richland, Washington
- Corvallis, Oregon
- Millcreek, Utah
- Kentwood, Michigan
- Olympia, Washington
- Royal Oak, Michigan
- Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
- Lehi, Utah
- Missoula, Montana
Logan, the list's No. 1 city, is home to just over 54,000 people in northern Utah, near the Idaho border. Verizon notes that the city boasts low corporate tax rates and low commute times for workers – only about 18 minutes on average – which can aid both hiring and productivity, according to multiple studies.
The country's nationwide average commute time for workers who don't work from home is nearly 28 minutes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Richland snagged the second spot on the list for two reasons: 25% of its nearly 62,000 residents hold a bachelor's degree, and the income per capita is just 4% above average. That means a solid portion of the workforce is well-educated while labor costs remain reasonable.
Corvallis, the No. 3 city on the list, is a city of nearly 60,000 people located 80 miles south of Portland. It features an average commute time of just 22 minutes and "readily available" business loans, according to Verizon's analysis of SBA data.
Utah, Washington and Michigan are popular states on this list – especially Utah, which landed three cities in the top 10. To an extent, that's unsurprising: Utah ranked third overall in CNBC's 2021 Top States for Business ranking, thanks to strong economic growth and a favorable corporate tax rate for businesses.
Washington placed ninth on that CNBC list, scoring highly in economic growth and access to technology. Michigan ranked 11th, due to its strong tech infrastructure and relatively low cost of doing business.