MSA: Grand Forks, ND-MN
Best places ranking: #13 among small metro areas
Gridlock is to Grand Forks as soybean fields are to Manhattan -- you won't come across either on your next visit. The average commute here is just 14 minutes.
That's one part of what locals call Grand Fork's biggest draw: Excellent quality of life. The list is long -- the ease of getting to work, a top school system, access to quality health care, and the energy that comes from being home to a major university, the University of North Dakota, which has a student population of more than 13,000.
Businesses in the Red River Valley enjoy some of the lowest taxes in the country -- and while the rest of the country struggled with the recession, oil-rich North Dakota pondered how to spend a $700 million surplus.
For more cutting-edge pursuits, UND offers access to top research minds and facilities, particularly in the fields of energy and unmanned aerial flight. A friendly culture eases networking, and entrepreneurs say help is always a quick call away. The only major downside to doing business in Grand Forks, it seems, is that the city is a good distance from either population-heavy coast, so shipping and gathering resources can be a time- and expense-consuming challenge. -Kathleen Ryan O'Connor
Resources for getting started in Grand Forks, ND
Local startup resources
Grand Forks Business Statistics
"This was the first coffee shop in North Dakota and it's still the only coffee roaster in town, so we have a great reputation and great word-of-mouth marketing." -Sarah Sand