MSA: Charlottesville, VA
Best places ranking: #19 among small metro areas
Entrepreneurs with brainy businesses find Charlottesville a great place to launch. The University of Virginia plays a starring role, bringing diversity and tremendous cultural, creative, scientific and historical resources to the city. It also helps foster Charlottesville's thriving entrepreneurial community. Local business owners can't say enough good things about Darden, UVA's graduate business school, which boasts the world-class Batten Institute for entrepreneurship. In addition to fostering education on innovation, Batten offers incubator space and other assistance to grad students starting businesses.
For a relatively small town, there's a good deal of venture capital here and in nearby Washington, D.C. Robust business networks help new entrepreneurs find angels and other investors. Finding the right employees, though, can be a challenge. Tech entrepreneurs can qualify for generous breaks on their local business taxes, but they have to compete for talent with rivals in Silicon Valley and other higher-paying areas.
But Charlottesville's quality of life can't be beat: The nearby Blue Ridge Mountains provide endless hiking opportunities, and oenophiles enjoy the growing number of vineyards surrounding the city. The city offers good schools and a low cost of living -- and right at its heart is a walkable, almost European pedestrian mall with numerous theaters, restaurants, cafes, artists, and musicians. -Elaine Appleton Grant
Resources for getting started in Charlottesville, VA
Local startup resources
Charlottesville Business Statistics
"This is a nice, laid-back town with access to money and brainpower." -Adam Healey