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Head start: Region ranks among very best for new businesses

New research confirms Tampa Bay's status as one the best U.S. cities for startups and entrepreneurs.

  • By Brian Hartz
  • | 10:00 a.m. February 17, 2022
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining! Meyer. Tampa Bay is one of the most startup-friendly metro areas in the entire country. Meyer. Tampa Bay is one of the most startup-friendly metro areas in the entire country.
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Tampa Bay frequently pops up in conversations about the best cities and metro areas in which to start a business. The region boasts a fast-rising tech hub and is a popular destination for entrepreneurs from northern cities who want lower taxes and better weather.

Exhaustive new research by Clever Real Estate, a real estate data company, has confirmed the Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater metro area’s reputation as one of the country’s top communities for startups. It considered criteria such as LLC filing fees, corporation filing fees, marginal corporate tax rates, employment growth, average annual income, as well as the number of CEOs per 1,000 residents, business applications per 100,000 residents and patents filed per 1,000 residents. It also used Google Trends to find out which cities’ residents did the most Internet searches for terms such as “starting a business,” “business plan” and “venture capital.”

Unsurprisingly, the top 10 best places to start a business are all located in southern, southwestern or western states. Tampa Bay ranks No. 6 overall, just behind Atlanta. Las Vegas is No. 1, followed by Salt Lake City, Orlando and Miami. Florida dominates the rankings, with Jacksonville appearing at No. 8, behind Phoenix and ahead of Denver and Kansas City.

The only northern cities to appear in Clever’s top 25 are Detroit and Washington, D.C.

Hartford, Connecticut, with an incorporation fee of $455, far above the $135 national average, is considered the worst place to start a business, according to Clever. Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Buffalo, N.Y., round out the bottom five.

Clever’s findings, published on the Real Estate Witch website, praise Tampa Bay as “checking all the boxes” for entrepreneurs.

“For entrepreneurs looking to start a business,” Clever Real Estate’s Jaime Dunaway-Seale writes, “Tampa Bay has it all: employment growth (5.6%), affordable employees ($52,291) and flourishing businesses (7,695 business applications per 100,000 residents).”

Dunaway-Seale praisess Jeff Vinik and his innovation hub, Embarc Collective, as being an important driver of Tampa Bay’s startup friendliness. Dunaway-Seale also praises the Tampa Bay Chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator program for lowering barriers for Black- and Hispanic-owned startups.


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