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Lafayette, LA
MSA: Lafayette, LA
Best places ranking: #2 among midsize metro areas
Population: 259,073
Lafayette is the capital of French Louisiana and the heart of Cajun country. French Acadians -- Cajuns -- exiled from Nova Scotia settled here in the late 1700s.

From crawfish boils to jambalaya cook-offs, this small town turned restaurant-heavy urban center always makes time to celebrate, enjoy family and eat. In recent years, Hurricane Katrina evacuees have expanded the local population -- and that population has grown steadily wealthier. Lafayette's average per-capita income rose more than 40% over the course of this decade.

Since the 1940s, the area has been dominated by the oil and gas industry, but the population boom has led to more demand in service industries, diversifying the area’s economy and creating something new in town: traffic.

Compared to other Southern metro areas, the cost of labor is cheap in Lafayette. The city is served by a regional airport, and Louisiana’s second largest university, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, brings to town a student population of more than 17,000. -Sara Pepitone

Launch Toolbox:
Resources for getting started in Lafayette, LA


Local smallbiz lenders

  • Gulf Coast Bk & Tr Co
  • Superior Financial Group
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Gulf Coast Bancshares
  • Hancock Holding Company
See all local lenders

Lafayette Business Statistics
Employer establishments with 1-49 employees
8,113 11,214
Small business growth rate
9.3% 5.0%
State business tax climate ranking
(out of 50 states)
33 N/A
Percentage of population with bachelor's degree
(ages 25-34)
27.5% 26.9%
Violent crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
794.3 478.8
Property crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
4,287.7 3,562.2
Population growth
6.4% 5.73%
Per-capita income
$37,998 $35,547
Per-capita income growth
40.5% 24.0%
GDP (in millions)
$15,385 $18,559
GDP growth
52% 32%
Average hourly wage
$17.13 $18.69
Housing foreclosure rate
(first half of 2009, 1 per every X housing units)
659 286
Median rent
(2009, for a 2-bedroom housing unit)
$713 $848
Housing price-to-income (HPI) ratio
(first quarter of 2009)
1.5% 1.9%
Long-term HPI ratio
(20-year average, 1984-2004)
1.6% 1.8%
HPI deviation from long-term average
-8.3% 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
"We launched Believe Entertainment in Lafayette to capitalize on its geographic positioning in the heart of Louisiana, its rich creative community and its technological savvy. " -Marcus Lyle Brown
Best Places Winners
What do you think of Lafayette?
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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