Top Cities For Young Entrepreneurs According to Sawyer Howitt

Sawyer Howitt Entrpreneur

Considering what millennials have been through, you have to admire their spunk. After taking their lumps during a global recession, they’re bouncing back with visionary ideas and sunny optimism.

In 2011, reports the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, people born between 1980 and 2000 opened almost 160,000 new businesses per month. Around 27% of millennials are self-employed. Clearly, they’re taking to entrepreneurship like ducks take to water.

Sawyer Howitt, a graduate of Lincoln High School in Portland, Oregon, is one example of the many rising stars across the country. He already shows a keen understanding of the financial and operational needs of running a successful business. He has unique ideas about how consumers can interact with brands in meaningful ways. He’s passionate about customer service. It’s not surprising that he just became a project manager at Meriwether Group, a business development service in Portland. There, he'll explore ways for companies to adapt to ever-evolving technologies.

Not only is Howitt business-savvy, but he's a nice guy. His efforts to better his community include donating to various charities, running mentoring programs for youth and fighting for women’s rights. He also helps to lead an international ethnic-studies group. For fun, he goes fishing, plays a mean game of racquetball and roots for the Portland Trailblazers. He plans to attend University of California, Berkeley.

Howitt can tell you that there’s no better time to launch a startup. It’s easier than it has been in a while to interest investors and secure small-business loans. Office communities are renting out small workplaces with short-term leases. This practice reduces the amount of up-front capital needed for getting started. Combining work and living space is another popular option for saving money and enjoying a better quality of life.

There’s a lot to think about when deciding where to set up shop. In any given area, considerations include the economy, access to funding, average age of the population, availability of high-speed broadband and the potential for networking.

Here are eight of the cities that meet those criteria:

1. San Francisco, California

Thanks to the technology boom, San Francisco, Oakland and Hayward make up one of the strongest business communities in the country. The area is home to a number of thriving companies like Twitter, Yelp, Uber, Levi Strauss and Gap. Continual growth attracts millennials from every sector.

Median earnings in the Bay Area are around $61,800, and almost 45 percent of residents hold at least a bachelor’s degree. The beautiful surroundings and unique cultural scene are also appealing.

2. Austin, Texas

“Keep Austin weird,” the locals are fond of saying. Indeed, that’s the official city motto, so Austin is bound to draw creative types.

The state capital and nearby Round Rock are undergoing a phenomenal boom. Community initiatives are in place to welcome entrepreneurs with open arms, and there are great incentives to pursue higher education. For every 100,000 residents, approximately $1.7 million in small-business loans is issued. Millennials account for almost a fifth of the population.

The music, nightlife and barbecue aren’t bad either.

3. Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City regularly turns up on lists of the cleanest, most affordable, most family-friendly cities in the U.S.

Brigham Young University is located just 40 miles south in Provo. Over the last five years, its graduates have raised more than $17 million to launch more than 60 companies.

Another enticement for businesspeople is the mentor-driven culture. Company founders are highly admired for funding young entrepreneurs. The Utah Valley business community is committed to paying it forward.

4. Palo Alto, California

Palo Alto tends to attract somewhat eccentric, highly educated young people. Many go on to become multibillionaires.

Facebook, Hewlett-Packard, Tesla, Google, PayPal and Pinterest have all done business in Palo Alto at some point in their history. When Facebook relocated there, it operated out of a house. If you drive through a residential area and see a group of youths fiddling with something in a garage, consider making an investment.

The median household income is a whopping $147,700, and the unemployment rate hovers around 2.6 percent. Stanford University draws some of the world’s most brilliant innovators.

5. Denver, Colorado

The foothills of the Rocky Mountains can’t be beat for balance and quality of life. Ride a bike to work. Go hiking on weekends. The ski slopes are only an hour's drive away.

The Denver area isn’t quite as established as some other hubs for small business. Newcomers probably stand a better chance of having their ideas heard than they would in Silicon Valley. There’s a strong network of support among the state government, industry leaders, research institutions and proponents of higher education. All are on the lookout for rising entrepreneurs. There’s even an annual Denver Startup Week.

6. Yorba Linda, California

This affluent community, birthplace of former President Richard Nixon, is 37 miles from Los Angeles. The median income is slightly upward of $121,000. That’s second only to Palo Alto. Almost 83 percent of Yorba Linda's residents own their homes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it’s one of the richest cities in America.

Yorba Linda boasts more than 1,000 businesses; an additional 1,500 operate from residential homes. In 2016, Fundera, an online loan broker, ranked it the second-best place in the state to open a small business.

Related: 5 Things Every Young Entrepreneur Needs to Know

7. Minneapolis, Minnesota

This diverse Midwest business community is alive and well. Whether large or small, new or established, its companies coexist in a network of mutual support that has strong backing from the government. Minnesota has enacted several laws to protect small-business owners.

There are 17 colleges and universities in town, so top-notch talent isn’t hard to find. The city’s population is widely acknowledged as the most literate in the U.S., and the Harvard Business Review has ranked Minnesota the No. 2 state for innovators.

8. Santa Monica, California

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more supportive community than this beachfront town in western Los Angeles County. The harnessing of entrepreneurial spirit has resulted in more than 23,000 successful startups. Thirty-two percent of them are owned by women.

Entrepreneurship captures the interest of established businesses, investors and city officials. Silicon Beach is giving Silicon Valley a run for its money. Initiatives like the 805 Startups Meetup help to build small-business ecosystems in Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties.

It’s also nice to be able to eat your lunch on the beach.

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