Several Washington cities landed on a national list ranking the 100 best small cities to start a small business.
Leading the Washington pack is Redmond, less than 20 miles from Seattle, which ranked as the number two city in the nation out of hundreds that a NerdWallet study reviewed. The broad study looked at 463 cities with a population size ranging from 50,000 to 100,000. Each area also had to have at least 500 businesses.
NerdWallet used U.S. Census data figures that measured local economic health and business climate for its rankings. Alpharetta, Georgia took the number one spot and Wilmington, Delaware, followed Redmond as the third best small city.
To be considered a strong city for a small business to thrive, the area should have fast-growing industries such as tech companies and embrace new kinds of growth. Close proximity to major metropolitan areas and robust local economies were identified as key indicators of success as well.
According to the study’s data, Redmond’s average revenue per business is $7.4 million. The percentage of businesses with paid employees stands at 35.85 percent. And for every 100 people in Redmond, there are 11.33 businesses.
Following Redmond, the Washington cities of Renton (84), Kirkland (91) and Spokane Valley (95) squeezed into the top 100.
NFIB/Washington State Director Patrick Connor says that although it’s flattering to see a Washington city score so high in a nationwide study, these kinds of Top 100 lists “tend to be more about marketing than actual research and analysis.”
The overall review is more or less a “puff piece to commend the chambers of commerce,” Connor says, noting the favorable emphasis on respective chamber groups. “Some can argue that it doesn’t show the whole picture,” he said.
More kinds of data, such as the number of business openings compared to closings and the longevity of enterprises would’ve helped paint that broader, more helpful picture, Connor says.
Some of the findings are not all that surprising: Having a large and robust business community that’s near a major metropolitan area tends to benefit small businesses. That helps explain why a city like Redmond—a suburb of Seattle and home to Microsoft, would be an advantageous place for small businesses, Connor says.