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Omaha, NE
Omaha-Council Bluffs
MSA: Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA
Best places ranking: #3 among midsize metro areas
Population: 837,925
If Omaha conjures up images of merely cornfields and cows, think again: Four Fortune 500 companies and Warren Buffett call this Midwestern city home.

Omaha's low cost of living, great schools, and affordable yet educated workforce make for a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity. Locals complain of high property taxes, but Nebraska is also the only state with a 100% public power system, offering customers some of the lowest utility rates in the country. Business owners can also benefit from the "Nebraska Advantage," a series of state tax incentives that in some cases nearly eliminates the burden of corporate income and sales taxes.

Agriculture -- certainly not tourism -- is the major industry that built the city, but that's not to say Omaha doesn't have a burgeoning arts and culture scene. As a frequent tour-bus stop between Chicago and Kansas City, Omaha gets many big names dropping by. Saddle Creek Records, an indie rock label representing Conor Oberst, Bright Eyes and Cursive resides here, as does the Qwest Center, a 18,300-seat arena that brings music and sports fans from Des Moines and Kansas City, which are both less than 200 miles away. -Annalyn Censky

Launch Toolbox:
Resources for getting started in Omaha, NE


Local smallbiz lenders

  • First National Of Nebraska In
  • Wells Fargo & Company
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wilber Co.
  • Farmers & Merchants Investment
See all local lenders

Omaha Business Statistics
Employer establishments with 1-49 employees
20,990 11,214
Small business growth rate
5.6% 5.0%
State business tax climate ranking
(out of 50 states)
42 N/A
Percentage of population with bachelor's degree
(ages 25-34)
36.6% 26.9%
Violent crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
411.5 478.8
Property crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
3,890.1 3,562.2
Population growth
6.0% 5.73%
Per-capita income
$41,655 $35,547
Per-capita income growth
24.3% 24.0%
GDP (in millions)
$41,656 $18,559
GDP growth
35% 32%
Average hourly wage
$18.58 $18.69
Housing foreclosure rate
(first half of 2009, 1 per every X housing units)
461 286
Median rent
(2009, for a 2-bedroom housing unit)
$800 $848
Housing price-to-income (HPI) ratio
(first quarter of 2009)
1.4% 1.9%
Long-term HPI ratio
(20-year average, 1984-2004)
1.5% 1.8%
HPI deviation from long-term average
-8.7% 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
"Entrepreneurship, for me, is a combination of two key ingredients: passion and discipline. Both come from people, and the people in Omaha are key" -Nick Hudson
Best Places Winners
What do you think of Omaha?
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