Jul 24, 2023 - News

Metro Atlanta leads in small business growth

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

Metro Atlanta had the second-highest number of new business applications per 1,000 residents in 2022, according to new Census Bureau and IRS data.

  • That's down 18.1% from 2021.

Why it matters: New business applications are an essential measure of an area's perceived economic health, Axios' Kavya Beheraj and Alex Fitzpatrick report. 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.

State of play: Georgia small businesses make up 99.6% of all businesses in the state and employ 1.7 million people — about 43% of all Georgia employees —, according to UGA's Small Business Development Center.

Zoom in: Fulton County led the metro and the state in new business applications, with more than 46.6 per 1,000 residents.

  • Population centers like Augusta, Columbus, Macon and Savannah, also posted high numbers.

Zoom out: 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.

  • Miami/Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach (40.9) took the top spot for major metro areas.

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.

View an interactive U.S. map of new business applications

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