While a well-developed new business can survive in challenging circumstances, there are certain U.S cities that provide the most fertile soil to bring your business from a seedling to a thriving operation. But what makes these locations the best? A variety of factors interact to create the ideal circumstances for a new business venture – things like less competition and a lower cost of living. Nerdwallet researchers also considered unemployment rates, income levels, and population density to determine where you’d have the best chance to start a business and succeed in the long-term. Just as a web-hosting directory allows you to compare virtual domains for your company page, this Nerdwallet study lets you compare the best physical locations for your business.

1. Boulder, Colorado

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Everyone’s favorite ski town, Boulder ranks number one on the list of best places to start a business. With a population of 301,072, Boulder showed a high number of businesses per 100 people: 14.1. While it may see counter-intuitive, having other businesses nearby is actually a strength. Most of the businesses surrounding you will not be competitors, and it offers the perfect opportunity for foot traffic and drive-by exposure. Boulder hosts a strong technology scene and is home to several coworking spaces, incubators, and networking events.

2. Wilmington, North Carolina

A seemingly random choice for the second best place to start a business, Wilmington is both close to the beach and growing as a tourist attraction. Downtown Wilmington hosts the highest number of businesses per 100 people: 15, making it an especially bustling spot for businesses owners to set up shop.

3. Greater Bridgeport, Connecticut

The most noticeable scene you’ll find in Bridgeport is its active art scene. Bridgeport also ranks the highest annual median income of all cities on the list at $63,369, and has a highly educated population. Family-owned businesses like Amodex have garnered significant financial success in this city of opportunity.

4. Evansville, Indiana-Kentucky

Evansville is a lesser-known city on the list, but features several active cultural districts. The Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville also offers some unique assistance to new entrepreneurs, like help in selecting a location, tax phase-in assistance, and programs to assist you in expanding your business.

5. Greater Portland, Maine

Often mistaken for the hipster mecca of Portland, Oregon, Portland, Maine is actually the safer place to start a business in the U.S. This city hosts an impressive foodie culture with countless culinary businesses already thriving. There are opportunities for meeting places, health insurance, and even cell phone plans thanks to the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce. To top things off for bootstrappers, Maine is also one of the cheapest states for car insurance, with a premium that is $539 less than the U.S. annual average.

6. Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Cedar Rapids is a top city in the world for corn and grain processing, and home to cultural centers like Orchestra Iowa and the Paramount Theatre. While it may not be known for attracting entrepreneurs, it does have a pleasantly lower cost of living. Furthermore, it’s unemployment rate is the lowest on the list at just 3.8%.

7. Greater Beaumont, Texas

You may not know anything about Greater Beaumont, but its cost of living is something to pay attention to. Greater Beaumont’s average household paid a total of just $8,316 per year on housing costs, lower than any other city on the list. The town is also home to a delightful Cajun culture, as well as a view of the Gulf of Mexico.

8. Green Bay, Wisconsin

We know Green Bay for its fanatical football fans, but there’s way more to the city than this. Along with museums, restaurants, and shops, Green Bay also features the CityDeck, a boardwalk that runs along the Fox River. The Greater Green Bay Chamber offers hefty microloans to new business owners.

This isn’t to say that you’d fail to start a business in a city that is not on this list. However, if you live in or near one of these cities and are thinking about trying your hand as an entrepreneur, this report gives you the official “OK.” The report shows that above all, the Midwest seems to be the ticket, offering easier circumstances than most coastal cities.

Featured photo credit: Cory M. Grenier via imcreator.com

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