Huntsville, Alabama has been named the top medium-sized city in which to start a small business by Fortune Small Business Magazine. The magazine's November 2009 issue contains a "Best Places to Launch" feature and rounding out the top ten cities are Lafayette, Louisiana; Omaha, Nebraska; Clarksville, Tennessee; Peoria, Illinois; Lexington, Kentucky; Killeen, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Lincoln, Nebraska.
According to the magazine, Huntsville's beautiful surroundings and low cost of living are just a few of the benefits the city has to offer, as well as less competition (the city is dominated by government contractors instead of venture capitalists). Huntsville is located in northern Alabama and its metro area has a population of 395,645. The city was once known for its cotton and railroad industries but in the mid-1900's, it became known as "Rocket City" as it became an important city for developing space technology. Home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, the U.S. Army's Aviation and Missile Command, and Cummings Research Park, it remains a huge influence on the country's aerospace and military technology with a thriving engineering community. The magazine calls it a "breeding ground for tech entrepreneurs."
Jerry Gabig, the CEO of Q-Track Corporation, said of his own experience starting a business in the city, "The cost of living and running a business is also relatively cheap here. My property tax is about a third of what I used to pay in Massachusetts. State gas taxes are relatively low, and the cost of electricity is below the national average. Land is also cheap, which makes it easy to expand."
Huntsville Chamber of Commerce CEO and president, Brian Hilson, told the Huntsville Times that a number of national publications have had their eye on the city for years. He says it's the result of the city's successful image marketing. "Our story is more credible when someone else says it."
The rankings were based on a study done by Fortune Small Business along with the Kauffman Foundation (the world's largest foundation devoted to entrepreneurship). The study showed which cities scored highest based on per capita income, hourly wages, work force quality, crime rates, taxes, and foreclosures. The entire article can be found at Money.CNN.com.