Written by Brad Harper
Mar. 13, 2014 |
Going into business in Montgomery is a capital idea, according to a new national study.
Financial site WalletHub.com ranked the nation’s 150 biggest cities according to how fertile they are for entrepreneurs, based on a wide range of factors. After all the data was added up, Alabama’s capital city landed at No. 23 among the best places to start a new business.
The rankings took into account factors ranging from the cost of office space to the five-year survival rate for local startups.
Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said entrepreneurs are willing to risk a lot to pursue their business dreams, citing a nationwide 10-year business failure rate of 90 percent. That’s why programs such as the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s business incubator are so important, he said.
“We obviously don’t have enough entrepreneurs, and we still need access to capital,” he said. “But the incubator is a perfect example of what you can do, with some of the great successes they’ve had.”
Southern cities dominated the WalletHub list, and Alabama had a strong showing overall. Montgomery ranked one spot behind Mobile and two ahead of Huntsville.
Jacksonville, Fla., landed at No. 1.
Other factors in the rankings included access to financing, corporate taxes, cost of living, real estate affordability and workforce education level.
While business owners are sure to like them, some of the other factors that helped send Montgomery up the list may not be great news for employees.
Cities scored points for low average salaries, long workdays and the number of people looking for jobs.
The data for the study came from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Indeed.com, the Kauffman Foundation, the Tax Foundation, LoopNet and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Montgomery didn’t rank in the top 5 in any individual category but scored strongly across the board.
Strange said he hoped the ranking would bring Montgomery to the attention of more entrepreneurs as they start doing research on potential locations.
He pointed to Dexter Avenue, where the city is finishing up a streetscaping project. Developers are purchasing four buildings on one side of the historic street and Foshee Management Company is creating a market district on the opposite side, with loft apartments, retail stores and restaurants.
“You might have somebody who’s looking at lower Dexter as a place to start a boutique bowling place,” Strange said. “Maybe they think, ‘Everybody else is doing it, why not me?’”