> Small Business > Best Places to Launch

43 of 50
Grand Forks, ND
Grand Forks
MSA: Grand Forks, ND-MN
Best places ranking: #13 among small metro areas
Population: 97,279
Gridlock is to Grand Forks as soybean fields are to Manhattan -- you won't come across either on your next visit. The average commute here is just 14 minutes.

That's one part of what locals call Grand Fork's biggest draw: Excellent quality of life. The list is long -- the ease of getting to work, a top school system, access to quality health care, and the energy that comes from being home to a major university, the University of North Dakota, which has a student population of more than 13,000.

Businesses in the Red River Valley enjoy some of the lowest taxes in the country -- and while the rest of the country struggled with the recession, oil-rich North Dakota pondered how to spend a $700 million surplus.

For more cutting-edge pursuits, UND offers access to top research minds and facilities, particularly in the fields of energy and unmanned aerial flight. A friendly culture eases networking, and entrepreneurs say help is always a quick call away. The only major downside to doing business in Grand Forks, it seems, is that the city is a good distance from either population-heavy coast, so shipping and gathering resources can be a time- and expense-consuming challenge. -Kathleen Ryan O'Connor

Launch Toolbox:
Resources for getting started in Grand Forks, ND


Local smallbiz lenders

  • Starion Bancorporation
  • Bremer Financial Corporation
  • Union Bancshares
  • Capital Credit Union
  • Blackridge Financial
See all local lenders

Grand Forks Business Statistics
Employer establishments with 1-49 employees
2,460 3,516
Small business growth rate
-0.4% 4.1%
State business tax climate ranking
(out of 50 states)
30 N/A
Percentage of population with bachelor's degree
(ages 25-34)
31.3% 23.5%
Violent crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
n/a 385.1
Property crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
2,660.8 3,395.2
Population growth
1.3% 4.93%
Per-capita income
$32,415 $31,933
Per-capita income growth
26.8% 23.6%
GDP (in millions)
$3,355 $4,952
GDP growth
32% 33%
Average hourly wage
$16.62 $17.50
Housing foreclosure rate
(first half of 2009, 1 per every X housing units)
1,294 850
Median rent
(2009, for a 2-bedroom housing unit)
$660 $737
Housing price-to-income (HPI) ratio
(first quarter of 2009)
1.5% 1.8%
Long-term HPI ratio
(20-year average, 1984-2004)
1.5% 1.7%
HPI deviation from long-term average
-4% 0.1%

All statistics are for the full Metropolitan Statistical Area. For a complete list of data sources, see "How we picked the Best Places."

From the November 2009 issue
"This was the first coffee shop in North Dakota and it's still the only coffee roaster in town, so we have a great reputation and great word-of-mouth marketing." -Sarah Sand
Best Places Winners
What do you think of Grand Forks?
Find your launch spot
Do you prefer a place that is: Small Medium Large
The factors that matter most to me are:
 Affordable wages  Few foreclosures
 Educated workers  Low housing costs
 Low crime  High local incomes
 A growing economy  Population growth
 Growing small business population

ireportTell us why: Low taxes? Talented workers? An active small business community? Send us your photos and videos, and you could be featured in our upcoming coverage of reader-picked Best Places to Launch. More
This year we partnered with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to find the 50 most business-friendly communities in America.

With help from Robert Fairlie, an economist and leading scholar of entrepreneurship at the University of California, Santa Cruz, we developed a methodology and sifted through such data on factors such as per capita income, hourly wages, workforce quality, crime rates, taxes and foreclosures. More

Comments? E-mail the editors
Data partners

This package was produced in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Foreclosure data provided by RealtyTrac.

Housing price-to-income data provided by Moody's