Inc. magazines has released its rankings of the Best U.S. Cities for Starting a Business in 2020. Two Washington cities make the top 50: Seattle (12) and Spokane (31).
Here’s what Inc. says about the rankings:
We have the key to the city–or 50 cities, to be exact. For the 2020 Surge Cities index, Inc. and innovation policy company Startup Genome analyzed troves of data on seven essential indicators–such as early-stage funding and job creation–to determine the 50 best areas for startup growth.
Of Seattle, the thumbnail reads, in part:
No. 5 Wage Growth ; 6 Early-Stage Funding Deals ; 14 Job Creation
If Microsoft was once the 800-pound gorilla in Seattle, surely that title now belongs to Amazon–it occupies more office space in Seattle than any other company in any other major U.S. city, according to a 2017 analysis conducted by real-estate data firm CoStar. Google, Facebook, and Apple have also been growing their presence in town, which has contributed to Seattle’s strong wage growth and job creation. (Cue the deluge of Millennial techies: Seattle remains at the top of the list for net migration of people between the ages of 20 and 34.) The Emerald City ranks dead last for net business creation, but companies that do get off the ground are often able to secure early-stage funding.
We’d emphasize that “dead last for net business creation” and point out that the city has not been topping anyone’s list of places with a “business-friendly” city council. The challenges are well known.
Spokane at No. 31 gets this treatment in the magazine’s brief blurbs:
No. 6 Rate of Entrepeneurship; 14 Population Growth ; 19 Early-Stage Funding Deals
Logistics and manufacturing companies thrive in Spokane, Washington where costs are low and the Pacific Northwest’s largest cities are all a few hours’ drive away. It’s also still remarkably affordable, which tends to serve as an added inducement for transplants. “What you hear from a lot of people is that places like Seattle and San Francisco are so cool, but the cost of that cool is so much more than they can afford,” says Luke Baumgarten, founder of co-working space Fellow Coworking. “So they come to Spokane, with its gritty blue-collar vibe and the proximity to nature. They quickly realize it’s a pretty awesome place.” And business is undoubtedly a fixture: Gonzaga University, located in the city’s center, offers one of the top-rated business programs in the country, and medical schools at the University of Washington and Washington State help fuel health care and biotech startups. As a sign of what’s coming: Spokane added more construction jobs in the past year than all but two U.S. cities, and its rate of entrepreneurship also reached new heights.
Inc.’s ranking of Spokane was highlighted Thursday during Greater Spokane Incorporated’s 2019 Legislative Forum at the Historic Davenport Hotel in downtown Spokane.
“Being named in the top 50 Surge Cities in the nation by Inc. recognizes the innovative and entrepreneurial momentum the Spokane region has experienced over the last eight years and validates our Hacking Washington initiatives, which is part of the One Spokane strategic plan.” Mayor David Condon said in a statement.
Spokane leaders see a bright future.
Spokane’s recognition by Inc. is well-deserved and the result of many years of behind-the-scenes work by several businesses, organizations and individuals, said Tom Simpson, CEO of Ignite Northwest, a life sciences and technology business accelerator.
“We really do have a thriving entrepreneurial community in Spokane with a large number of companies starting here,” he said. “Spokane is an attractive region to start a company. It’s attracting better entrepreneurs and better ideas, which is attracting more funding and resulting in more success.”
Secondary cities like Spokane are poised to absorb overflow from labor- and real estate-constrained metropolitan areas like Seattle and the Bay Area, said Simpson, who is also president of the Spokane Angel Alliance and co-founder of online retailer Etailz.
The top 5 cities identified by Inc. are Austin, Texas; Salt Lake City; Durham, North Carolina; Denver; and Boise.