6. Atlanta

small biz cities georgia

Atlanta ranked No. 1 on the 2012 list, and even though it slipped, NerdWallet's Jasthi said the city still performed well.

The well-educated population makes it stand out for entrepreneurial activity: Over 47% of residents 25 years and older hold a bachelor's degree or higher.

Atlanta is also on NerdWallet's top 10 list of the best cities for recent college graduates.

"Georgia State University has a very strong entrepreneurship program, and Georgia Tech has one of the most well-known tech incubators in the state," said Robert Yancy, chairman of the Atlanta chapter of SCORE, a nonprofit partner of the Small Business Administration.

"The city has made lots of overtures to attract startups, such as tax rebates," he said. "And Atlanta used to be a nightmare for getting business licenses. That process has also been streamlined."

First published July 9, 2014: 2:39 PM ET

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