Jul 13, 2023 - Economy

The country's new business hot spots, mapped

New business applications, 2022
Data: U.S. Census; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The Southeastern U.S. is a hotbed of new business activity, home to nine of the top 10 major metro areas with the most new business applications per 1,000 residents last year.

Driving the news: That's per a new Axios analysis of U.S. Census Bureau and IRS data.

Why it matters: New business applications are an important measure of an area's perceived economic health. If lots of people are trying to start new companies in a given city, it's a sign that they're bullish on the area's prospects.

  • The word "startup" tends to evoke buzzy Silicon Valley tech ventures. But young companies of all stripes, from stores and restaurants to software and manufacturing firms, play a big economic role.
  • As of 2021, more than 66.7 million Americans worked for companies with fewer than 100 employees, and those companies posted nearly $3.6 trillion in annual payroll, per census data.

The big picture: Just over 5 million new business applications were filed nationwide in 2022, or 15.1 for every 1,000 residents.

  • That's down about 6.6% from 2021, when nearly 5.4 million applications were filed nationwide, or 16.2 for every 1,000 residents.

Zoom in: Miami (40.9), Atlanta (31.3) and Orlando (28.7) took the top spots for major metro areas as ranked by new business applications per 1,000 residents in 2022.

  • The only metro area outside the Southeast making the top 10: Provo, Utah, at 23.2.

Of note: Parts of the Mountain West also had strong showings — the Denver metro area came in at 21.6, for instance.

Between the lines: Many of the hottest spots for new business applications also have booming populations.

  • That makes sense, as economic growth and population increases tend to go hand in hand.

Yes, but: A filed application is no guarantee of a healthy, thriving business to follow — but at the very least it's a sign of economic optimism.

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