MSA: Jefferson City, MO
Best places ranking: #20 among small metro areas
Jefferson City isn't a thriving hotbed of entrepreneurial innovation. Located in the very center of Missouri -- a two-plus hours' drive from Kansas City and St. Louis -- the state capital has instead fostered a slow-growth community of small companies, many of which were founded to the support state government, the city's largest employer. Decades-old manufacturing firms provide bottling and printing services to the local divisions of Unilever and Scholastic Inc. Consequently, the city has seen relatively few layoffs during the recession.
While Jeff City already boasts a low cost of doing business -- both its cost of living (the median home price is about $115,000) and its artisan manufacturing talent are relatively cheap -- commerce leaders are looking at ways to attract more industry. To lure more engineering and tech entrepreneurs from the University of Missouri's flagship campus (located 30 miles north in Columbia), the riverside city's Incentive Task Force is implementing its round of first startup-friendly programs, which has included a 100% personal and property tax abatement for a firm that plans to create at least 50 jobs and a $15 million capital investment in the city's downtown. -Maggie Overfelt
Resources for getting started in Jefferson City, MO
Local startup resources
Jefferson City Business Statistics
"Jefferson City's a great town when it comes to understanding the work ethic of the Midwestern value system. " -Andrew Wren