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Hattiesburg, MS
MSA: Hattiesburg, MS
Best places ranking: #9 among small metro areas
Population: 140,781
Hattiesburg prides itself on a long-standing tradition of entrepreneurship -- a legacy it's working to carry forward by supporting companies in expanding industries and encouraging young, educated workers to stay in the city.

In 2005, Hattiesburg's Area Development Partnership and the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) opened Business Launchpoint, an incubator that supports small businesses with high growth potential. A half-dozen companies are located within the incubator, and a previous tenant, Town Square Design Co., was acquired by Eco-Systems Inc. in March.

Hattiesburg has a large pool of young talent thanks to USM, William Carey University and two area community colleges. One of Hattiesburg's biggest challenges is creating an atmosphere that encourages recent college graduates to stay in town while catering to the area's significant retired population -- an issue that business leaders are studying.

Small-business owners in Hattiesburg say they enjoy year-round warm weather, arts and recreation opportunities, a low cost of living and affordable real estate. Hattiesburg, which is known as "Hub City," is also within a couple hours drive of cities such as New Orleans and Jackson, Miss. -- a big perk for companies selling goods and services out of town.

Despite a local unemployment rate that hit 8.9% in July, Hattiesburg's small businesses have held steady through the recession. While area customers have been more cautious with their money, shop owners say they see customers returning to mom-and-pop stores where they have established relationships. -Sheena Harrison

Launch Toolbox:
Resources for getting started in Hattiesburg, MS


Local smallbiz lenders

  • First Financial Banc Corporati
  • Trustmark Corporation
  • Community Bancshares Of Missis
  • Peoples Bank
  • Superior Financial Group
See all local lenders

Hattiesburg Business Statistics
Employer establishments with 1-49 employees
3,274 3,516
Small business growth rate
9.6% 4.1%
State business tax climate ranking
(out of 50 states)
19 N/A
Percentage of population with bachelor's degree
(ages 25-34)
32.5% 23.5%
Violent crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
266.4 385.1
Property crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
3,083 3,395.2
Population growth
9.9% 4.93%
Per-capita income
$27,239 $31,933
Per-capita income growth
19.8% 23.6%
GDP (in millions)
$4,259 $4,952
GDP growth
41% 33%
Average hourly wage
$15.5 $17.50
Housing foreclosure rate
(first half of 2009, 1 per every X housing units)
1,666 850
Median rent
(2009, for a 2-bedroom housing unit)
$669 $737
Housing price-to-income (HPI) ratio
(first quarter of 2009)
1.6% 1.8%
Long-term HPI ratio
(20-year average, 1984-2004)
1.6% 1.7%
HPI deviation from long-term average
2% 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
"In Hattiesburg, I can very quickly get a meeting, or a phone call, or a face-to-face with our local government and business leaders. " -Rodney Richardson
Best Places Winners
What do you think of Hattiesburg?
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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