Even as the national economy keeps getting stronger, there’s still plenty of competition among cities and metro areas to attract new business, including small businesses and startups. Part of that is a race to prove which city can most successfully brag about having a truly business-friendly environment.
And one Florida city may be winning that race.
Florida is already known for being one of the best states to start a business in. The Sunshine State has consistently ranked among the best states for new business, thanks to the state’s tax policies (Florida is one of only nine states with no income tax), pro-business government, and streamlined regulatory environment.
And now Florida’s largest city is getting some of that recognition as well. Business.org just ranked Jacksonville as a great place to start a business. Jacksonville was the top city in Florida to make the list.
A booming economy and low unemployment rate helped put Jacksonville on the list, and the River City is the top-ranking Florida city for entrepreneurs and start-ups, Business.org noted as they ranked Jacksonville at No. 28 nationally, ahead of four other Florida cities that made the list:
- Orlando (31)
- Tampa (34)
- and Miami (39).
But it should also be noted that Jacksonville has other assets that attract entrepreneurs, including a booming downtown, a strong quality of life, plenty of great entertainment and cultural venues, and a thriving housing market. It doesn’t hurt that real estate in Jacksonville is still quite affordable, well below the sky-high levels seen in other major metro areas.
Why is Jacksonville considered a great city for startups?
City leaders are well aware of Jacksonville’s appeal, which is why they founded One Spark, an annual five-day event that matches startup companies and entrepreneurs with funding sources from investors looking for smart new talent. If people want to start a business in The River City, there are plenty of resources available to help them get started.
One Spark, also known as the “world’s crowdfunding festival," was created to match great new ideas with existing funding opportunities.
This is one examples of how Jacksonville attracts entrepreneurs, and it’s a key reason why Amazon put together a list of the 10 most entrepreneurial states and ranked the Sunshine State at No. 7. Amazon assembled the list based on the number of items small businesses from each state sold on its site. Half the items sold on its site worldwide are from medium and small-sized businesses.
More importantly, Amazon followed up – and built a distribution center in Jacksonville to offer same-day shipping opportunities in the North Florida area.
Jacksonville’s efforts to attract small businesses have largely paid off. Today the city’s economy is very strong, with the unemployment rate at 3.5 percent in March, lower than the statewide average of 3.9 percent and the national average of 4.1 percent.
CNNMoney has ranked Jacksonville as being “hot for startups,” with a growing reputation as a city where entrepreneurs’ dreams can become reality. CNN Money noted that unlike Silicon Valley or New York City, Jacksonville offers inexpensive business and labor costs and low taxes to help attract young people.
That business growth reflects another strength the city has: a high quality of life offering plenty of great recreational opportunities to enjoy in Florida’s famous tropical climate – and a low cost of living to boot.
That’s why Jacksonville keeps attracting both families and businesses.
What Other Ways Can Jacksonville Assist Entrepreneurs?
When it comes to relocating to Florida, a lot of people assume that the Sunshine State’s greatest strength is the weather – the feeling of summer all year round. But as state leaders like to point out, the state also offers more land, labor, and capital than California or New York, plus additional financial incentives and expedited permitting.
Jacksonville’s municipal government has understood this as well, which is why the City of Jacksonville’s Office of Economic Development offers assistance to entrepreneurs looking to start a business in downtown.
Likewise, the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce helps establish new businesses and supports the growth of new companies in the Jacksonville area.
How Does This Impact the Housing Market?
A strong local economy is helping to keep interest in home buying very strong in the Jacksonville area.
The real estate website Zillow reports that the median home value in Jacksonville is $163,642, a still affordable price that’s lower than the national average. But at the same time, Jacksonville home values have gone up 11 percent in the past year, and Zillow is projecting they will rise an additional 5.1 percent in the next year.
As more people choose to start a business in Jacksonville, more jobs are created, which will help attract more people to relocate to the River City. That population growth is going to continue driving interest among home buyers in the city’s housing market.
Jacksonville’s city leaders have made it clear that the city is open for business – and businesses of all sizes are not only welcome but can tap into a lot of assistance being provided to help their startup.
The city’s efforts to establish Jacksonville as a great place to start a business are gaining national recognition. That’s continued good news for the housing market as well, bringing more people to the city looking for jobs, who then start searching for their new home.