> Small Business > Best Places to Launch

28 of 50
Wichita, KS
MSA: Wichita, KS
Best places ranking: #18 among midsize metro areas
Population: 603,716
There's something in the air in Wichita -- literally.

Known as the "Air Capital of the World," Wichita is where aircraft such as Cessna and Learjet planes are built. Boeing also maintains significant operations here. Aircraft parts and suppliers also support Wichita's booming aviation industry.

But it's not just fun in the skies. Wichita is also heavy in other manufacturing, including motorcycles and camping gear. Koch Industries, one of the nation's largest private companies, is based in Wichita and owns companies around the world in the oil, chemicals, agriculture, materials and a host of other industries.

Pizza Hut also had its start in Wichita, and its original building is housed at Wichita State University, where its founders were students. The university's Center for Entrepreneurship is a renowned business program.

Though it's a sizable city, Wichita still retains a Midwestern, small-town feel. For business owners, that means it's easy to access resources and local and state government officials. Housing and business startup costs are modest, and entrepreneurs can find support, tools and networking through a number of local business associations. -Ellen Lee

Launch Toolbox:
Resources for getting started in Wichita, KS


Local smallbiz lenders

  • Intrust Financial Corporation
  • United Bancshares
  • Emprise Financial Corporation
  • Central Of Kansas
  • TTAC Corp
See all local lenders

Wichita Business Statistics
Employer establishments with 1-49 employees
14,091 11,214
Small business growth rate
1.7% 5.0%
State business tax climate ranking
(out of 50 states)
31 N/A
Percentage of population with bachelor's degree
(ages 25-34)
27.2% 26.9%
Violent crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
678.2 478.8
Property crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
4,649.3 3,562.2
Population growth
4.1% 5.73%
Per-capita income
$38,552 $35,547
Per-capita income growth
29% 24.0%
GDP (in millions)
$25,353 $18,559
GDP growth
25% 32%
Average hourly wage
$18.44 $18.69
Housing foreclosure rate
(first half of 2009, 1 per every X housing units)
211 286
Median rent
(2009, for a 2-bedroom housing unit)
$668 $848
Housing price-to-income (HPI) ratio
(first quarter of 2009)
1.2% 1.9%
Long-term HPI ratio
(20-year average, 1984-2004)
1.4% 1.8%
HPI deviation from long-term average
-12% 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
"My dad had the opportunity to move the company somewhere else, but there is something about the entrepreneurial spirit that this community has." -Patricia Koehler
Best Places Winners
What do you think of Wichita?
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