RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – If Amazon is looking for an entrepreneurial hot spot as its HQ2 pick, the Triangle just got a boost.

Three North Carolina cities landed in the top ten on WalletHub’s 2018 Best Large Cities to Start a Business ranking released Monday, outranking all but one of its rivals for Amazon’s HQ2 site.

Durham landed 5th, Charlotte 9th, and Raleigh 10th on WalletHub’s list. Winston-Salem landed at 34th and Greensboro at 57th.  Fayetteville also made the list at 67th out of 182 cities ranked.

WalletHub compared the relative startup opportunities in 182 large cities, including the 150 most populated, using 19 key metrics, ranging from five-year-business survival rate to office-space affordability.

As usual in WalletHub reports, Durham and Raleigh are considered separate metropolitan areas.

However, Amazon has said it is considering the Triangle as a whole, not just Raleigh.

Other metrics included average growth in number of small businesses, and job growth. Access to resources evaluated included venture investment per capita, prevalence of investors, human capital availability, higher education assets, and share of college-educated population.

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Business costs weighed included labor costs, corporate taxes and cost of living.

Considering the Triangle’s relatively low cost of living, low cost of doing business, superb educational resources, highly educated population, and other positive factors, it’s not surprising that it outranked many larger metro areas on the WalletHub list.

Raleigh and Durham did end up on the wrong end of one metric in the WalletHub analsysis: they were one and two on the least access to capital list.

While the recognition of the Triangle’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is good news, as it outranked all but one of its rivals for Amazon’s HQ2 site.  Austin, Texas, one of those rivals, was 2nd on the list. Denver was 12th and Atlanta, 19th. Both were top five likely choices for HQ2 along with Raleigh, according to a Bank of America study. Miami ranked 14th.

Other contenders for the Amazon HQ2 site fell lower in the WalletHub ranking, including Nashville at 50; Newark at 97; Chicago at 135; DC at 136; and Boston at 140; Pittsburgh at 169; Philadelphia at 175.

As many as five sites in the Triangle, including Raleigh and Durham, are being considered for the HQ2 site.

The top ten on WalletHub’s ranking in order were:

  1. Oklahoma City
  2. Austin, TX
  3. Sioux Falls, SD
  4. Missoula, MT
  5. Durham, NC
  6. Bismarck, ND
  7. Cheyenne, WY
  8. Billings, MT
  9. Charlotte, NC
  10. Raleigh, NC.

Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, National Venture Capital Association, Yelp,, Tax Foundation, Council for Community and Economic Research, LoopNet, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and WalletHub research.