RALEIGH – Entrepreneurs, take note: If you want to start a business – and thousands of you are across North Carolina – then Durham and Raleigh may deserve to be at the very top of your site shopping list. A new survey lists the Bull City and the City of Oaks as No. 5 and No. 11 respectively as best places to launch a company among 100 big cities across the US.

Charlotte, meanwhile, came in at No. 8. Winston-Salem No. 13 and Greensboro No. 48.

Financial information and news site WalletHub released its report Monday morning.

And the Triangle is especially a hot spot given that Morrisville ranked No. 10 among top small cities to start a business in a WalletHub report last week.

Good business news is nothing new for the state, either, which CNBC declared last year as No. 1 for business. 

Data from the state of North Carolina shows that startups in the Tar Heel state have blossomed at record levels since the end of the pandemic. Now comes this report which shows across a variety of study facts that put the Triangle cities in the top tier, especially in:

  • Business environment: Durham (38), Raleigh (45)
  • Access to resources: Durham (5), Raleigh (8)
  • Business costs: Durham (21), Raleigh (31)

A variety of other criteria (see methodology below) produced a total score potential of 100.

“In order to help aspiring entrepreneurs — from restaurant owners to high-tech movers and shakers — maximize their chances for long-term prosperity in the current difficult economic situation, WalletHub compared the relative startup opportunities that exist in 100 U.S. cities,” WalletHub explains. “We did so using 19 key metrics, ranging from the five-year business-survival rate to labor costs to office-space affordability.”

Four Florida cities top the list – Orlando, Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa in that order.

Durham scored 60.15, less than a point behind No. 4 Tampa and No. 3 Miami.

Raleigh scored 56.6, just behind its economic development rival Austin, Texas, at 56.86.

Charlotte’s score totaled 58.30.


WalletHub chart



Here is the methodology for the study:

Business Environment – Total Points: 50

  • Length of Average Work Week (in Hours): Full Weight (~6.25 Points)
  • Average Growth in Number of Small Businesses: Full Weight (~6.25 Points)
  • Startups per Capita: Full Weight (~6.25 Points)
  • Average Growth of Business Revenues: Full Weight (~6.25 Points)
  • Five-Year Business-Survival Rate*: Full Weight (~6.25 Points)
  • Industry Variety: Full Weight (~6.25 Points)
  • Entrepreneurship Index*: Full Weight (~6.25 Points)
  • Job Growth (2021 vs. 2017): Full Weight (~6.25 Points)

Access to Resources – Total Points: 25

  • Financing Accessibility: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Total Annual Value of Small-Business Loans / Total Number of Small Businesses.
  • Venture Investment (amount) per Capita: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
  • Prevalence of Investors: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
  • Human-Capital Availability: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Number of Job Openings per Number of Civilians in Labor Force minus Unemployment Rate.
  • Higher-Education Assets: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “2023 College & University Rankings” ranking of America’s top 913 universities.
  • Share of College-Educated Population: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the percentage of the population aged 25 and older holding at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • Working-Age Population Growth: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
    Note: “Working-Age Population” includes individuals aged 16 to 64.

Business Costs – Total Points: 25

  • Office-Space Affordability: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the per-square-foot rental cost of commercial office space.
  • Labor Costs: Double Weight (~10.00 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the median annual income.
  • Corporate Taxes*: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
  • Cost of Living: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)