Portland-South Portland ranked among the best communities in America for young entrepreneurs

NerdWallet, one in a burgeoning field of finance websites churning out shareable content these days, has released its ranking of the country’s best cities for young entrepreneurs.

And after crunching the numbers on 181 metropolitan areas in an effort to put mathematical values on how vibrant — or not — they all are in fostering young entrepreneurial communities, NerdWallet determined the Portland-South Portland area was a healthy No. 19 in America.

The majority of cities that finished higher than Portland-South Portland were much larger — the Denver, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and Salt Lake City areas were among them — but a few smaller cities were in the top 20 as well.

The Fairbanks, Alaska, and Burlington, Vermont, areas — main cities populations of around 32,000 and 42,000, respectively — were at No. 11 and No. 17.

(Portland, as Maine’s largest city, has a population of around 66,000. Combined with South Portland, it comes to about 91,000, and it gets much bigger if you expand it to the federally recognized and massive Portland Metropolitan Statistical Area, which counts four southern Maine counties.)

To make its calculations, NerdWallet looked at U.S. Small Business Administration loans distributed per 100,000 residents, numbers of small businesses, median earnings, unemployment rates, and percentages of populations between the ages of 25 and 34, as well as those with at least a bachelor’s degree.

While Portland-South Portland was competitive across the board, the area fared particularly well in the “unemployment rate” column, where its 3-percent figure was better than all but three other cities in the top 20.

The No. 1 place on the list, if you’re curious, was the Austin, Texas, area.

See the full city-by-city breakdown by clicking here.

These numbers show, by at least one website’s metrics, which areas are successful at fostering young entrepreneurial communities. And Portland has stepped up its game in recent years with things like the popular Maine Startup & Create Week event, and dedicated networking organizations like the chamber’s PROPEL.

But as my colleague, Dan MacLeod, found out when he looked into what Maine needs to do to continue growing entrepreneurs and innovation, it’s still surprisingly unclear what actions might be most effective in helping the state’s community of small businesses.

Read more about that as a section of our three-part Economy Project here.

Featured BDN main page photo by Darren Fishell.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.