Relocating and expanding companies searching for the best and most cost-effective place to do business are flocking to the Heartland. States like Utah, Texas, Nebraska and Colorado dominated last week’s list of the Best Places for Business and Careers released by Forbes.
Unlike most West and East Coast locations, these cities offer business-friendly climates with fewer regulatory burdens and lower costs. What else do they have in common?
Many are college towns. The No. 1 city on the list, Provo, Utah, has a $16 billion economy powered largely by Brigham Young University, the country’s third-largest private college by enrollment. The university is becoming known as a top research institution that competes with more prestigious universities like MIT and spins off a large share of start-up companies. Other college towns on the list include: Fort Collins, Colo.; Columbus, Ohio; and Cambridge, Mass., home to both Harvard University and MIT.
A highly skilled workforce is another common distinction among these cities. The No. 2 city on the list, Raleigh, N.C., attracts talent from nearby schools like North Carolina State, Duke University and University of North Carolina, and has been named a “brain magnet” by Forbes for the wealth of college graduates it attracts from across the country.
The No. 10 city, Nashville, Tenn., is known as the “Athens of the South” for its large concentration of higher-education institutions and was recently ranked as the fourth best city for college graduates. Students from the region’s two dozen colleges and universities often stay in the area after graduation to work, and the city’s booming health-care and technology sectors draw highly educated graduates from other places across the U.S.
Other cities on the list known for their talent attraction include: Austin, Texas, which has more than 70 colleges and 360,000 enrolled students within a 200-mile radius; San Francisco, Calif., where 48 percent of the population possess a college degree; and Charlotte, N.C., which has a good mix of research-focused universities and workforce-driven colleges.
Another common denominator among cities on the list? Texas. Along with Austin, the Lone Star State had four other cities on the list — Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Fort Worth — which have collectively attracted investment in sectors such as energy, biotech, IT and aerospace, due to a wealth of workforce talent in those areas.
What’s your opinion of the rankings? Are there any more connections you see between the best cities for business? Please share your thoughts below.