Discover America’s Top 100 Hidden Gems for Startups

We recently carried out a survey among 3,000 business executives to identify which cities they consider hidden gems for launching a startup. The results are below.

Key Findings & Implications


  • Regional Clusters: Many hidden gem cities are clustered in regions known for their strong educational institutions, lower living costs, and supportive local governments. The West Coast and Southwest regions have the most hidden gem cities for startups.
  • Economic Diversity: These cities often have diverse economic bases, supporting industries such as healthcare, technology, manufacturing, and tourism.
  • Quality of Life: Regions with high quality of life, scenic beauty, and recreational opportunities tend to attract startups looking for a balanced lifestyle.

Factors Influencing Attracting Startups:

  • Community Support: Smaller cities often have tight-knit communities that provide strong local support for startups, creating a welcoming environment for new businesses.
  • Lower Costs: The lower cost of living and business operations in these hidden gem cities can provide significant financial relief for startups, allowing more funds to be allocated towards growth and innovation.
  • Access to Talent: Many of these cities are home to universities and colleges, offering a continuous influx of young talent and research opportunities that can drive innovation and growth.
  • Quality of Life: The quality of life in these smaller cities, with less traffic, lower pollution, and more green spaces, can be a major draw for entrepreneurs seeking a balanced lifestyle.
  • Diverse Sectors: These cities are not just tech hubs; they offer opportunities in various sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing, tourism, and retail, providing diverse options for entrepreneurs.
  • Strategic Locations: Many hidden gem cities are strategically located with access to major transportation routes, making them convenient for logistics and distribution.
  • Supportive Ecosystems: Local chambers of commerce, business incubators, and accelerators in these cities often provide essential resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities tailored to the needs of startups.
  • Innovation Hubs: Cities like Flagstaff, Arizona, and San Luis Obispo, California, are emerging as innovation hubs with strong support for sustainability and technological advancements.
  • Historical and Cultural Appeal: Cities like Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Charleston, South Carolina, offer rich historical and cultural environments that can inspire creativity and attract tourists, adding value to local businesses.
  • Work-Life Balance: Entrepreneurs can enjoy a better work-life balance in these cities, thanks to the availability of recreational activities, scenic landscapes, and community events.
  • Government Incentives: Some of these cities provide government incentives such as tax breaks and grants to attract and support startups, making them more appealing destinations for entrepreneurs.
  • Networking Opportunities: Smaller cities often have active local business networks and events, facilitating easier connections and collaborations between entrepreneurs and established businesses.
  • Tech Infrastructure: Cities like Round Rock, Texas, and Akron, Ohio, are investing in tech infrastructure, making them attractive for tech startups looking for robust digital support.
  • Community-Driven Growth: Many hidden gem cities emphasize community-driven growth, where local businesses support each other, fostering a collaborative environment for startups.

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