Jacksonville ranked #1 for small business starts

Jacksonville ranked #1 for small business starts

Editor’s Note: When my husband and I moved here in from Pittsburgh, it was more than just a desire to get away from the harsh winters that led us to make Jacksonville our pick city. Because we’re active in boating we wanted to be on a river and considered half a dozen other “river cities” before making our decision. We first visited here in late July 2011 so there were would be no surprises later about the heat and humidity. Jacksonville was number one for us for its small-town friendliness, quick and easy access to Downtown, and we sensed that it was a city on the cusp of greatness. I was pleased to read that Jacksonville is considered the top city to start a business.

Recently WalletHub.com analyzed the relative start-up opportunities that exist in the 150 largest cities in the United States in terms of population in order to help aspiring entrepreneurs – from restaurant owners to high-tech movers and shakers – maximize their chances for long-term prosperity.small biz

The analysis noted that Jacksonville, Florida’s largest city, boasts the country’s second-highest five-year small business survival rate, as well as attractive corporate tax rates, a bountiful labor force and fairly accessible small business funding. Thus the WalletHub ranking of #1 in the country for small business starts.

The ranking is not a popularity contest based on public opinion. WalletHub used 14 unique metrics to gauge the relative entrepreneurial opportunities that exist in the 150 largest U.S. cities, based on population. The metrics considered the level of overhead involved with opening a business as well as the level of local business competition, the depth of the talent pool, and the cost of living to evaluate overall business friendliness among those cities.

The Resident reached out to leaders in the community to validate WalletHub’s findings with their own perceptions.

For Sandy Bartow, Vice President of Entrepreneurial Growth at JAX Chamber, the answer is clear why Jacksonville has earned this rank. “Because collectively we are cultivating a community of risk takers and our entrepreneurs see both opportunity and support in Jacksonville.”

To sustain that growth, Bartow noted, “We need to continue to grow a strong infrastructure of support for all levels of entrepreneurship as well as celebrate our successes. We are fortunate to have strong entrepreneurial support organizations that collaborate to impact the entire region.  The JAX Chamber, the US Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Center and Jacksonville Women’s Business Center support business owners in moving through their fears by increasing knowledge and business acumen. We also need to shine the spot light on entrepreneurs who every day take risks and create jobs.”

Visit Jacksonville’s CEO Paul Astleford, formerly from Columbus, OH, said “Some of the attributes that make Jacksonville a great city to start a small business are similar to those we share with potential leisure travelers and meeting and convention planners in promoting the city.

“The cost of living in Jacksonville is lower than other Florida cities like Orlando, Miami and Tampa. Also, we have the youngest population of any major city in Florida, with a median age of 35, and a diverse population, which make this a great city for business – whether it’s a large company or a young entrepreneur attempting to get a business established,” he
continued.

Astleford, who lives in Epping Forest, also noted that the One Spark festival has been helpful in launching small businesses.

“It also doesn’t hurt that, with One Spark and a growing number of technology firms being incubated here, along with many locally-owned restaurants springing up, Jacksonville is building a reputation as a young, cool city with a strong dining scene. That’s definitely an attraction for people who are looking for a place to launch a new business.”
Lori Boyer, District 5 Councilwoman, is positive, too about the potential for growth in the community.

“Jacksonville’s recent ranking as the best city in the country for start-up businesses is certainly great publicity that will help foster additional entrepreneurial investments. Those small businesses are the core of our economy, and more than a few started here have grown to national and international stature,” she said. “But, perhaps even more importantly, it may help us recognize what a wonderful city we call home and bolster our sense of civic pride and identity. Congratulations Jacksonville!”

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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