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Baltimore, MD
MSA: Baltimore-Towson, MD
Best places ranking: #10 among large metro areas
Population: 2,667,117
Sure, there's the swanky Inner Harbor, crab feasts and Oriole Park, but Baltimore's biggest selling point is location: a 30-minute train ride from Washington and just a couple of hours from New York. That puts businesses close to federal agencies with money to spend and to the country's finance capital. Baltimore is near the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration -- which sign off on new products and provide research grants -- as well as Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland Medical Center. That makes the region fertile ground for biotech startups.

Baltimore is also home to the Emerging Tech Center, a business incubator directed toward tech startups. The Baltimore Development Corporation offers low-interest loans to small businesses, usually in the $50,000-$100,000 range. BDC also runs 10 "Main Street" programs through which it helps revitalize older commercial neighborhoods in the city, fixing street lights, replacing benches, updating infrastructure, sprucing up building facades and helping find tenants for vacant buildings.

Still, Baltimore has classic urban problems like a high crime rate and problematic schools. The flip side is a vibrant downtown, with quirky, distinct neighborhoods and a growing number of creative young professionals and entrepreneurs. -Eilene Zimmerman

Launch Toolbox:
Resources for getting started in Baltimore, MD


Local smallbiz lenders

  • Manufacturers And Traders Trust Company
  • Superior Financial Group
  • BB&T Corporation
  • Howard Bancorp
  • Suntrust Banks
See all local lenders

Baltimore Business Statistics
Employer establishments with 1-49 employees
64,481 78,289
Small business growth rate
4.2% 5.3%
State business tax climate ranking
(out of 50 states)
45 N/A
Percentage of population with bachelor's degree
(ages 25-34)
38.6% 32.7%
Violent crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
791 537.6
Property crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
3,470 3,700.0
Population growth
1.8% 6.38%
Per-capita income
$45,887 $41,342
Per-capita income growth
27.9% 25.0%
GDP (in millions)
$125,918 $164,601
GDP growth
31% 32%
Average hourly wage
$22.61 $21.03
Housing foreclosure rate
(first half of 2009, 1 per every X housing units)
212 113
Median rent
(2009, for a 2-bedroom housing unit)
$1,121 $981
Housing price-to-income (HPI) ratio
(first quarter of 2009)
1.9% 1.8%
Long-term HPI ratio
(20-year average, 1984-2004)
1.6% 1.9%
HPI deviation from long-term average
16.1% 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
"Being in Baltimore has allowed us to lease reasonably priced office space, and it gives us access to a very well educated workforce." -Chris Brandenburg
Best Places Winners
What do you think of Baltimore?
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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