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Durham, NC
MSA: Durham, NC
Best places ranking: #15 among midsize metro areas
Population: 489,762
To hear local entrepreneurs tell it, Durham is putting the D in diversity. Once known for tobacco and textiles, today it's part of The Research Triangle, the world's largest research and development center. The city is home to an array of high-tech, medical and financial services companies, as well as federal agencies and educational institutions.

The locals are a highly educated bunch: Duke University, North Carolina Central University and Durham Technical Community College employ and train area residents. Business support organizations like the Institute for Minority Economic Development and the Women's Business Center offer the resources entrepreneurs need to thrive.

The city's strong sense of community helps its assorted enterprises and individuals come together. It's the kind of place where businesses embrace struggling local schools by donating supplies, volunteering classroom speakers and hosting field trips.

Living, business and construction costs remain low compared to national averages. Another local perk: Durham offers plenty of ways to unwind after a hard day's work, from kayaking and hiking to performance art and gallery tours. -Maya Payne Smart

Launch Toolbox:
Resources for getting started in Durham, NC


Local startup resources

47.1% 26.9%
Violent crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
n/a 478.8
Property crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
n/a 3,562.2
Population growth
9.8% 5.73%
Per-capita income
$38,845 $35,547
Per-capita income growth
24.2% 24.0%
GDP (in millions)
$27,874 $18,559
GDP growth
34% 32%
Average hourly wage
$23.48 $18.69
Housing foreclosure rate
(first half of 2009, 1 per every X housing units)
288 286
Median rent
(2009, for a 2-bedroom housing unit)
$896 $848
Housing price-to-income (HPI) ratio
(first quarter of 2009)
1.9% 1.9%
Long-term HPI ratio
(20-year average, 1984-2004)
1.8% 1.8%
HPI deviation from long-term average
5.4% 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
"I've lived in several other areas of the country, and you couldn't drag me away from here kicking and screaming. It's the best place I've lived." -Paul Salone
Best Places Winners
What do you think of Durham?
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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