MSA: Bismarck, ND
Best places ranking: #2 among small metro areas
While an economic recession ravaged the country, Bismarck came out ahead: The city's unemployment rate is the lowest in the country, at 3.3%, while the nation's nears 10%.
How did Bismarck manage that? The big town is blossoming into a small city at the right time.
Bismarck's biggest growth opportunities are in the energy sector. With strong and consistent winds, Bismarck is one of the best wind-turbine areas in the country. The city also holds an estimated 3 billion barrels of untapped crude oil in a region it shares with Montana and a Canadian province.
One way Bismarck spurs growth is through its CORE Incentive Programs, which provide grants to businesses that bring development to Bismarck's downtown. The Bismarck Vision Fund uses city taxes to help finance local business expansion and startups.
The state, which passed $400 million in tax cuts in April, does its part, too. The Bank of North Dakota, the only state-owned bank in the country, offers financing for local companies, and supports the state's New Venture Capital Program. Run by the North Dakota Department of Commerce, that program makes investments of up to $300,000 each in promising local businesses.
Though the best Bismarck -- and the rest of North Dakota -- can do for sports fans is high school and college games (plus a few minor-league teams), the city is renowned for its hunting and fishing. -Hibah Yousuf
Resources for getting started in Bismarck, ND
Local startup resources
Bismarck Business Statistics
"In a small town, everyone wants to help you start your business because everyone wants the town to grow and thrive." -Jarred Roloff