Durham No. 5, Raleigh No. 11 in the best places to start a business, survey says

RALLY – Entrepreneurs, take note: If you’re looking to start a business—and thousands of you are across North Carolina—then Durham and Raleigh might deserve to be at the top of your shopping list. A new study lists the Bull City and the City of Oaks as the No. 5 and No. 11 best places to start a company, respectively, among 100 major U.S. cities.

Charlotte, meanwhile, came in at No. 8. Winston-Salem No. 13 and Greensboro No. 48.

Financial information and news site WalletHub released its report Monday morning.

And the Triangle is a particularly hot spot, given that Morrisville ranked No. 10 among the best small towns for starting a business in a WalletHub report last week.

Good business news is nothing new for the state, which CNBC named last year the No. 1 place for business.

Data from the state of North Carolina shows that startups in the Tar Heel State have thrived at record levels since the end of the pandemic. Now comes this report that shows various survey facts that put Triangle cities in the top tier, especially in:

  • Business environment: Durham (38), Raleigh (45)
  • Access to Resources: Durham (5), Raleigh (8)
  • Business Expenses: Durham (21), Raleigh (31)

A variety of other criteria (see methodology below) resulted in a total score of 100.

“To help aspiring entrepreneurs—from restaurant owners to high-tech movers and shakers—maximize their chances for long-term prosperity in today’s tough economic climate, WalletHub compared the relative startup opportunities that exist in 100 U.S. cities,” explains WalletHub . “We did this by using 19 key metrics ranging from five-year business survival rates to labor costs to office space affordability.”

Four Florida cities top the list – Orlando, Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa, in that order.

Durham scored 60.15, less than a point behind No. 4 Tampa and No. 3 Miami.

Raleigh scored 56.6, just behind economic development rival Austin, Texas, at 56.86.

Charlotte’s score was 58.30.

WalletHub graphic


Here is the research methodology:

Business environment – Total points: 50

  • Length of average work week (in hours): full weight (~6.25 points)
  • Average growth in the number of small businesses: Full weight (~6.25 points)
  • Startups per capita: full weight (~6.25 points)
  • Average business revenue growth: Full weight (~6.25 points)
  • Five-year business survival rate*: Full weight (~6.25 points)
  • Industrial Diversity: Full Weight (~6.25 points)
  • Entrepreneurship Index*: Full weight (~6.25 points)
  • Job growth (2021 vs. 2017): Full weight (~6.25 points)

Access to Resources – Total Points: 25

  • Funding availability: Full weight (~3.57 points)
    Note: This indicator is calculated as follows: Total annual value of small business loans / Total number of small businesses.
  • Risk investment (amount) per capita: Full weight (~3.57 points)
  • Investor Spread: Full Weight (~3.57 points)
  • Availability of human capital: full weight (~3.57 points)
    Note: This indicator is calculated as follows: Number of vacancies per number of civilians in the labor force minus the unemployment rate.
  • Higher Education Assets: Full weighting (~3.57 points)
    Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “2023 College & University Rankings” of America’s 913 best universities.
  • Share of population with tertiary education: full weight (~3.57 points)
    Note: This indicator measures the percentage of the population aged 25 and over with at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • Working-age population growth: full weight (~3.57 points)
    Note: “Working age population” includes people aged 16 to 64.

Business Expenses – Total Points: 25

  • Affordability of office space: full weight (~5.00 points)
    Note: This metric measures rental costs per square foot of commercial office space.
  • Labor Costs: Double weight (~10.00 points)
    Note: This indicator measures average annual income.
  • Corporate Taxes*: Full weight (~5.00 points)
  • Cost of living: full weight (~5.00 points)

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