August 20, 2014

10 Top Cities for Fastest-Growing Companies

After taking a spin around the 2014 Inc. 5000, you may wonder where on earth all these fast-growing companies are located? If you said Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley, you wouldn’t be wrong, but you’d be missing a huge swath of the country and the companies that call the rest of the U.S. home. While these two entrepreneurial hubs are indeed verifiable startup hotbeds, the coasts have hardly cornered the market on thriving businesses.Here is our list of the top 10 cities with the fastest-growing companies.

10. Denver

The largest city in Colorado isn’t just a skier’s delight, it’s home to a thriving entrepreneurial community. Like its business-friendly counterpart to the north, Boulder, Denver boasts highly educated talent and a convenient time zone, which the city’s fastest-growing 47 companies on our list are only too happy to enjoy. Plus, Denver has something else East Coast and West Coast startup hubs don’t have: a lower cost of living. Among other things, its comparatively low-priced housing stock allows entrepreneurs the luxury of plowing more resources into their business.

9. Irvine, Calif.

Surprise! The little town in Orange County, California, with a population of around 230,000 is home to 47 of the fastest-growing companies on this year’s list. (Note, the companies in Irvine are growing just slightly faster than those in Denver, which put the California city ahead on our list.) Perhaps it’s not shocking to many--as the city boasts a world-class public school system and ample centers of higher education, including a University of California campus and Concordia University, among others. Small business marketer 29 Prime is the fastest-growing company on Inc.’s list in the region.

8. Dallas

The Dallas-Fort Worth area has the fifth-largest concentration of high-tech workers, and it ranks fifth in the country with the most self-employed people in the U.S., according to the Dallas Regional Chamber. While the cost of living here is well under such pricey cities as San Francisco or New York, there’s no lack of cash flow in the region, with investors such as Mark Cuban and local venture capital firms like Dallas Venture Partners. That might have something to do with why 55 of the nation’s fastest-growing companies have chosen to call Dallas home.

7. San Francisco

If we compared tech hubs to companies themselves, San Francisco would be Google or Apple. It already has a mature tech scene, but there’s still no lack of innovation. Crescendo Bioscience, a diagnostics company that focuses on rheumatoid arthritis, is the fastest-growing firm in one of the most mature startup ecosystems on our list of 63 Inc. 5000 companies from the Bay Area.

6. Houston

The largest city in the South is brimming with young people. The median age is three years under the national average, and the college completion rate has surpassed the mean. Known for its booming energy sector, Houston has been trying to increase its economic diversity by supporting businesses in industries such as tech, medicine, and manufacturing. Fiberglass grating provider PPT Fiberglass made the top of our list of 76 fast-growing companies based in Houston.

5. San Diego

This southern California city is not only known for its beautiful coastline, but it’s also quickly becoming a sought-after tech hub. Thanks to the dominance of the University of California’s San Diego-based medical center, the area turning into the next go-to place for biotech companies. San Diego is also home to giant chipmaker Qualcomm, among others. And with year-round beautiful weather, the city handily made our list as the hotspot for 81 fast-growing Inc. 5000 companies including Multifamily Utility, a utility billing firm, and photo-scanning service PhotoBin.

4. Austin

It’s no secret that Austin has a booming startup scene. Home to an ever replenishing talent pool out of the University of Texas, as well as big tech companies such as Dell, Austin secured this year’s fourth spot on our top 10 cities list, with 87 fastest-growing Inc. 5000 companies. And it’s no coincidence that it’s the third city in Texas that made our list. In addition to big hair, the state is well known for its business-friendly conditions, like being income tax-free.Simpler Trading, a financial trading training company, tops the list in Austin.

3. Atlanta

Business opportunities abound when you share a home base with some of the nation’s biggest companies. Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and UPS all call Atlanta home. Besides gaining opportunities to provide products for these big companies, startups in Atlanta also benefit from a solid pool of tech talent from one of the nation’s best engineering schools, Georgia Tech, and the potential of press coverage from media giants such as CNN. Residential Capital Management, a property service company, leads Atlanta’s fast-growing companies on the Inc. 5000.

2. Chicago

The founders of successful companies such as PayPal and Yelp all studied at University of Illinois. Though they eventually headed west, Chicago would seem to be primed for its own startup influx. Just ask the 95 of the fastest-growing Inc. 5000 companies that call the Windy City home. Chicago’s growing startup scene centers largely around 1871, an incubator that’s expected to be home to 350 to 400 startups and venture capital firms by the end of this year. Plus, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has vowed to double the city's tech sector in the next decade, which gives the city hope to become the tech hub of the future.

1. New York

No matter how many new faces we have seen on this list over the last few years, the No.1 spot remains the same. As home to 205 of the fastest-growing companies on the Inc. 5000, the Big Apple’s tech scene is exploding. With startup accelerators like Techstars, investors such as Union Square Venture’s Fred Wilson, and a talent pool from world-renowned universities--Columbia, New York University and (most recently) Cornell--virtually every startup can have a shot in New York. Thanks to these resources, Centric Digital, a digital strategy consulting firm, and online marketing firm ReviMedia are this year’s fastest-growing companies in Silicon Alley.

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