Small businesses thrive because of their communities. Customers eat at restaurants on Main Street, shop at their local hardware store, visit the doctor down the block… When you think about it, a town’s culture is largely defined by the relationships between entrepreneurs and their neighbors. While these interactions happen all across the country, there are certain communities that are especially hospitable to small business.
So, where are the best cities and towns for small business?
This is a question we get a lot—and one that we think is especially relevant for both small business owners and their neighbors. We decided to crunch the numbers, state by state, to identify the best places to start and operate a small business. Our hope is to find trends in the data as we move across the country and to help you think about the future of your business.
As a company based in the heart of New York City, we decided to first look at our home state and ask “What New York cities are the best for small business?” There are more than 2,000,000 small businesses in the Empire State, making up 99% of the state’s firms—that’s a lot of small businesses to look at!
So we pulled the most recent census data to create a Fundera Score for each city. Each score is calculated by weighing a few different variables—including population growth, average business revenue, and percentage of home owners—that you can read more about at the bottom of this post.
And the winners for New York are…
Fundera Score of 61.91
Topping our list is the town of Harrison, New York. Located just 22 miles from Manhattan, Harrison is a short 1-hour train ride from the city in Westchester County—making it a prime location for entrepreneurs wanting to stay close to the Big Apple.
What gives Harrison a leg up in our study is its extremely high average revenue per business: $4,359,000 a year. The strong economic environment is boosted by many corporate headquarters in the village including PepsiCo, Mastercard, and Morgan Stanley.
Fun fact: Harrison is used as a filming location for 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
Fundera Score of 61.12
Another Westchester county village, Scarsdale, is the leading performer in household income with a median value of $241,453. (That’s the highest number we saw across the whole data set of New York cities!)
Scarsdale’s high score is also reflective of its large population growth from 2010 to 2015—with a growth rate of 4.01%—with the population of the city increasing 17,196 to 17,885.
Fun fact: Kramer is accidentally awarded a Tony for the fictional musical “Scarsdale Surprise” on the sitcom Seinfeld.
Fundera Score of 54.79
Guess what county Tarrytown is in? That’s right—another Westchester County town captures the 3rd spot on our list.
Tarrytown had a strong performance across the board, but performed exceptionally well in average revenue per business and population growth. The average revenue per business is $2,636,600, while the population grew 2.6% to 11,560 from 2010 to 2015.
Fun fact: Mark Twain is a former resident of Tarrytown.
Fundera Score of 54.34
Barely beating White Plains in our rankings is Patchogue, New York. This town gets special accolades as the top Long Island city (and first non-Westchester county city) on our list.
Its strong performance is due to two main variables—strong population growth (5.34% over 5 years) and a high percentage of businesses with paid employees (39.05% of businesses had at least one paid employee).
Fun fact: Patchogue is home to Blue Point Brewing Company.
Fundera Score of 54.04
White Plains performed well in our study due to the shear number of businesses within the city. For a town of 58,549, there are whopping 8,367 firms. That’s roughly 1 business for every 7 people in town!
White Plains is the county seat and commercial hub of Westchester County—the affluent New York county located roughly 20 miles from Manhattan. For most of the 20th century, the town has been home to many large corporations. Today, it’s business environment is boosted by the presence of AT&T, Heineken USA, Nine West, and Nokia.
Fun fact: White Plains is the birthplace of famous entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.
Fundera Score of 53.87
Garden City is located on Long Island, only 18.5 miles from Midtown Manhattan. The town has a relatively low unemployment rate of 1.9% and an owner-occupied housing percent of 95.04%.
It also has a population of 22,612—many of whom work at or attend the Garden City location of Adelphi University.
Fun Fact: Charles Lindbergh began his landmark flight from Roosevelt Field in East Garden City.
Fundera Score of 52.59
Saratoga Springs is a popular tourist destination for New Yorkers—and the tourism industry has helped the city make our list. While the city has the lowest median income among our list of top cities (population of 71,727 in 2015), it makes up for it with strong population growth (4.4%) and a large number of firms (3,410).
Fun fact: The Battle of Saratoga was fought 9 miles from Saratoga, in the nearby town of Stillwater.
Fundera Score of 51.54
Mount Kisco leads our study in one metric—the village has a whopping 39.33% of firms with paid employees. The city is also strong when it comes to average revenue per business per year: $1,330,640.
Fun fact: Mount Kisco seceded from its neighboring towns of Bedford and New Castle in 1978.
And just for fun…
Fundera Score of 44.83
Surprised? Although NYC is famous for its small businesses, its other economic factors brought down the score, like percentage of home owners and median household income. Generally speaking, cities near New York performed better!
Although many of its firms are big, New York naturally led the pack: it is home to 1,050,911 businesses. (Compare that to the city with the second largest amount of firms, Buffalo, with 15,178.)
Fun fact: New York City served as the capital of the United States in the 1780s before it was moved to Philadelphia and then Washington D.C.
Fundera’s data for this study came exclusively from the U.S. Census Bureau. There were 3 studies that we looked at in-depth: the American Community Survey, the Populations Estimates Program, and the Survey of Business Owners. In collecting information, we included all cities with a population of at least 10,000. Our data looked at cities as defined as “Economic Places” by the U.S. Census Bureau—cities with over 5,000 jobs and 5,000 people.
We calculated our Fundera Score by weighing the most important variables relating to small business success:
We’ll be looking at more states as the year goes on. Finding out the best places for small business across the United State is something we think about a lot—and a topic we hope to examine more closely as the year goes on.
Let us know in the comments what state you want us to look at next!