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Hartford, CT
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford
MSA: Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT
Best places ranking: #5 among large metro areas
Population: 1,190,512
Hartford, a two-hour drive from both Boston and New York City, is the capital of one the country's wealthiest states, and a low-cost alternative to other major cities in the Northeast.

The past few years have seen new life -- hotels, restaurants, a convention center and a science center -- sprouting in the historic city, where you'll also find the country's first public art museum and oldest public park. About half the jobs in Hartford require at least a bachelor's degree (finance, insurance, medicine, professional management and government are the primary local paycheck-makers) but there's also an abundance of lower-cost workers available for hire.

Specialty manufacturing and technology firms do well in Hartford -- it's one of the most-wired cities in the U.S. thanks to programs like "Wireless Hartford," which brings free Wi-Fi to zones targeted for development. Also, manufacturers that relocate to or expand in Hartford may be eligible for a property tax abatements and corporate tax credits.

One of Hartford's struggles is academic underachievement. This fall, the city introduced High School Inc., a four-year insurance and finance academy for high school students. Funded by the local business community, High School Inc. is designed to prepare students for college and give the businesses a chance to develop their next generation of workers. -Sara Pepitone

Launch Toolbox:
Resources for getting started in Hartford, CT


Local smallbiz lenders

  • Webster Financial Corporation
  • Newtown Savings Bank
  • Newalliance Bancshares
  • Fairfield County Bank
  • Liberty Bank
See all local lenders

Hartford Business Statistics
Employer establishments with 1-49 employees
28,609 78,289
Small business growth rate
1.4% 5.3%
State business tax climate ranking
(out of 50 states)
37 N/A
Percentage of population with bachelor's degree
(ages 25-34)
39.4% 32.7%
Violent crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
291.6 537.6
Property crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
2,942.8 3,700.0
Population growth
1.4% 6.38%
Per-capita income
$48,330 $41,342
Per-capita income growth
27.2% 25.0%
GDP (in millions)
$69,863 $164,601
GDP growth
24% 32%
Average hourly wage
$24.2 $21.03
Housing foreclosure rate
(first half of 2009, 1 per every X housing units)
195 113
Median rent
(2009, for a 2-bedroom housing unit)
$1,021 $981
Housing price-to-income (HPI) ratio
(first quarter of 2009)
1.9% 1.8%
Long-term HPI ratio
(20-year average, 1984-2004)
2.1% 1.9%
HPI deviation from long-term average
-5.8% 0.0%

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
"What is attractive is the city's central location. Most of our business comes from outside Hartford, from as far as New York and Boston -- people driving by who stop in. " -Imani Zito
Best Places Winners
What do you think of Hartford?
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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