MSA: Dubuque, IA
Best places ranking: #8 among small metro areas
The oldest city in Iowa, Dubuque retains its historic roots in manufacturing through the presence of factories owned by John Deere and an under-construction plant for Hormel Foods. But with three colleges in its midst, Dubuque also offers a highly educated workforce. The insurance industry has a strong presence here, and IBM recently opened a service center that plans to hire up to 1,300 workers by the end of next year.
While a credit crunch has dried up small business capital throughout much of the country, entrepreneurs say the area's banks and credit unions have stayed active. Heartland Financial, a financial services company that holds deposits of more than $2 billion, continues to call Dubuque home.
If there's one downside to Dubuque, it's the weather: Temperatures in Dubuque, which is located in the snow belt, can hit 20 below, and the city averages 50 inches of snow a year. But summer in Dubuque makes up for it: the city is bursting with farmers' markets, festivals and state and county fairs. -Coeli Carr
Resources for getting started in Dubuque, IA
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Dubuque Business Statistics
"Every time you step out into Main Street is a networking opportunity. The folks at the local UPS know us by name and even recognize my voice." -Ann McDonough