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Dubuque, IA
MSA: Dubuque, IA
Best places ranking: #8 among small metro areas
Population: 92,724

The oldest city in Iowa, Dubuque retains its historic roots in manufacturing through the presence of factories owned by John Deere and an under-construction plant for Hormel Foods. But with three colleges in its midst, Dubuque also offers a highly educated workforce. The insurance industry has a strong presence here, and IBM recently opened a service center that plans to hire up to 1,300 workers by the end of next year.

While a credit crunch has dried up small business capital throughout much of the country, entrepreneurs say the area's banks and credit unions have stayed active. Heartland Financial, a financial services company that holds deposits of more than $2 billion, continues to call Dubuque home.

If there's one downside to Dubuque, it's the weather: Temperatures in Dubuque, which is located in the snow belt, can hit 20 below, and the city averages 50 inches of snow a year. But summer in Dubuque makes up for it: the city is bursting with farmers' markets, festivals and state and county fairs. -Coeli Carr

Launch Toolbox:
Resources for getting started in Dubuque, IA


Local smallbiz lenders

  • Ohnward Bancshares
  • QCR Holdings
  • Northwest Investment Corp.
  • Hills Bancorporation
  • Dupaco Community Credit Union
See all local lenders

Dubuque Business Statistics
Employer establishments with 1-49 employees
2,585 3,516
Small business growth rate
2.1% 4.1%
State business tax climate ranking
(out of 50 states)
44 N/A
Percentage of population with bachelor's degree
(ages 25-34)
37.8% 23.5%
Violent crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
504.6 385.1
Property crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
2,424.8 3,395.2
Population growth
2.9% 4.93%
Per-capita income
$33,505 $31,933
Per-capita income growth
23.4% 23.6%
GDP (in millions)
$4,000 $4,952
GDP growth
37% 33%
Average hourly wage
$16.34 $17.50
Housing foreclosure rate
(first half of 2009, 1 per every X housing units)
6,470 850
Median rent
(2009, for a 2-bedroom housing unit)
$600 $737
Housing price-to-income (HPI) ratio
(first quarter of 2009)
1.5% 1.8%
Long-term HPI ratio
(20-year average, 1984-2004)
1.4% 1.7%
HPI deviation from long-term average
7% 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."

Note: An earlier version of this profile listed an incorrect unemployment rate for Dubuque and citied the Hormel and IBM facilities as fully operational. Both are still in the ramping-up stage.
From the November 2009 issue
"Every time you step out into Main Street is a networking opportunity. The folks at the local UPS know us by name and even recognize my voice." -Ann McDonough
Best Places Winners
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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

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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