MSA: Baltimore-Towson, MD
Best places ranking: #10 among large metro areas
Sure, there's the swanky Inner Harbor, crab feasts and Oriole Park, but Baltimore's biggest selling point is location: a 30-minute train ride from Washington and just a couple of hours from New York. That puts businesses close to federal agencies with money to spend and to the country's finance capital. Baltimore is near the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration -- which sign off on new products and provide research grants -- as well as Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland Medical Center. That makes the region fertile ground for biotech startups.
Baltimore is also home to the Emerging Tech Center, a business incubator directed toward tech startups. The Baltimore Development Corporation offers low-interest loans to small businesses, usually in the $50,000-$100,000 range. BDC also runs 10 "Main Street" programs through which it helps revitalize older commercial neighborhoods in the city, fixing street lights, replacing benches, updating infrastructure, sprucing up building facades and helping find tenants for vacant buildings.
Still, Baltimore has classic urban problems like a high crime rate and problematic schools. The flip side is a vibrant downtown, with quirky, distinct neighborhoods and a growing number of creative young professionals and entrepreneurs. -Eilene Zimmerman
Resources for getting started in Baltimore, MD
Local startup resources
Baltimore Business Statistics
"Being in Baltimore has allowed us to lease reasonably priced office space, and it gives us access to a very well educated workforce." -Chris Brandenburg