Want to start a business? Raleigh and Durham are among the best places

Durham and Raleigh ranked in the top ten in WalletHub's study of the best cities to start a business.

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Mandy Mitchell
, WRAL reporter

When James Avery started his tech business eight years ago, he considered launching it from a from one of the country’s high-profile tech meccas.

"We were really close to going to Seattle," said Avery.

But he settled on Durham. He and his wife looked all over the country and fell in love with North Carolina for its beaches and for its tech scene.

"One of the great things here is you don't have to be the next Facebook -- you can make an impact on this area building a sustainable growing business," he said.

That’s what Avery has done with Adzerk. It's a company that helps other companies with internet needs like online advertising. The business started in the Bull City and has been growing ever since.

"We are clearly a top 10 start-up ecosystem," said Chris Heivly, a lifelong entrepreneur and managing director of the Startup Factory in Durham. "I call us the best-kept entrepreneurial secret."

The region's success may not be a secret for much longer. Both cities made WalletHub's list of the 10 best large cities to start a business. So did Charlotte, making North Carolina one of just two states to have three cities in the top 10.

The study looked at 100 cities based on population and ranked them on three factors -- overall business environment, like the number of small businesses in the city; access to resources, including how much financing is available; and business costs, like the cost of office space.

Durham ranked seventh and Raleigh ranked eighth. Charlotte, the third North Carolina city on the list, was ranked sixth.

"I feel like we are finally starting to be more known for that," said Jessica Mitsch, the CEO and co-founder of Momentum Learning. "I think we have been doing it for a long time, but we just didn't have the press around our area like other cities have gotten."

Mitsch is from Raleigh, an Enloe High School graduate, and she started her tech business in Durham. She is an example of homegrown talent that may have gone elsewhere in years past.

"For the first five years I was doing this, Duke students immediately run to New York and LA and San Francisco," Heivly said. "That's been slowing over the years. More of them are understanding that this is a place they can start a company."

And once they start, many stay, creating jobs for a growing population.

The best large city in the country for starting a business, according to Wallet Hub, is Orlando, Florida. The worst – Chesapeake, Virginia.


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