10 Best Places to Start a Business in Wisconsin

Date: August 19, 2015

In 2011, Governor Scott Walker took office and declared Wisconsin open for business. Since then, the state’s performance in business climate rankings has been improving: Forbes listed it 32nd best in November 2014, the state’s best ranking since Forbes started the list in 2006, thanks to improvement in business costs, labor supply, regulatory climate, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. Forbes also listed Wisconsin as 18th best for growth prospects.

With more reasons for business owners to set up shop in the Badger State, NerdWallet recently released a list of the best places to start a business. The website analyzed 118 locations statewide that had a population of at least 5,000 and calculated the final scores based on business and economic climate data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Here are the locations that came out on top:

1. Ashwaubenon

Location: Green Bay suburb

Population: 17,047

Number of businesses: 1,703

Average revenue per business: $3,619,809

Businesses with paid employees: 64.42 percent

Unemployment rate: 5.9 percent

Notable features: Home of Austin Straubel International Airport; resources, support and networking for businesses available through Ashwaubenon Business Association and the Small Business Development Center at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

2. Monona

Location: East of Madison

Population: 7,663

Number of businesses: 986

Average revenue per business: $1,398,651

Businesses with paid employees: 48.38 percent

Unemployment rate: 3.3 percent

Notable features: Businesses can benefit from the Monona East Side Business Alliance as well as Madison’s business accelerator programs and incubators, such as Madcelerator, gener8tor and Common Wealth Development.

3. Waukesha

Location: Milwaukee suburb

Population: 70,775

Number of businesses: 4,777

Average revenue per business: $4,874,283

Businesses with paid employees: 37.60 percent

Unemployment rate: 4.8 percent

Notable features: Location of University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, GE Healthcare facilities and corporate headquarters for ProHealth Care, Aries Industries and HUSCO International

4. Hudson

Location: Western Wisconsin, approximately half hour from Minneapolis-St. Paul

Population: 12,880

Number of businesses: 1,918

Average revenue per business: $1,970,096

Businesses with paid employees: 36.86 percent

Unemployment rate: 4.4 percent

Notable features: Businesses can benefit from the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau.

5. Plymouth

Location: Eastern Wisconsin (not part of a major metro area)

Population: 8,422

Number of businesses: 592

Average revenue per business: $3,964,029

Businesses with paid employees: 34.29 percent

Unemployment rate: 3.4 percent

Notable features: Resources for businesses through the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce

6. Brookfield

Location: West of Milwaukee

Population: 37,975

Number of businesses: 5,797

Average revenue per business: $1,525,488

Businesses with paid employees: 35.60 percent

Unemployment rate: 3.5 percent

Notable features: Company headquarters for financial technology company Finserv based here; businesses can take advantage of nearby Milwaukee’s entrepreneurship resources, such as Startup Milwaukee and The Global Entrepreneurship Collective.

7. Glendale

Location: North of Milwaukee

Population: 12,889

Number of businesses: 1,588

Average revenue per business: $1,655,247

Businesses with paid employees: 42.95 percent

Unemployment rate: 3.6 percent

Notable features: Home to shoe company Florsheim and Sprecher Brewing Co.; businesses have easy access to Milwaukee’s entrepreneurial programs, such as Scale Up Milwaukee and Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation.

8. Pewaukee

Location: West of Milwaukee

Population: 13,455

Number of businesses: 2,044

Average revenue per business: $2,312,698

Businesses with paid employees: 27.01 percent

Unemployment rate: 3.4 percent

Notable features: Harken, a sailboat hardware and accessory manufacturer and distributor, has its headquarters here.

9. Waupaca

Location: Central-eastern Wisconsin

Population: 6,044

Number of businesses: 673

Average revenue per business: $1,675,336

Businesses with paid employees: 47.70 percent

Unemployment rate: 4.9 percent

Notable features: Resources for businesses through the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce and City of Waupaca

10. Shawano

Location: Northeastern Wisconsin

Population: 9,236

Number of businesses: 1,007

Average revenue per business: $1,286,479

Businesses with paid employees: 41.91 percent

Unemployment rate: 4.1 percent

Notable features: Home to Wisconsin Towns Association, a nonprofit that supports local government and towns; resources for businesses through the Shawano County Economic Progress, Inc.

To see the full list of rankings or NerdWallet’s methodology, visit http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/small-business/places-start-business-wisconsin/.

Related Content: Small Business News | Wisconsin

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