Best Places to Start a Business in Virginia
With many incentives for startups and existing businesses and a state Corporation tax Among the lowest rates in the country at 6%, Virginia’s business-friendly policies appear to be paying off.
The state’s unemployment rate was 4.8% in July, compared to the national average of 5.3%, and 193,000 jobs have been created in Virginia since the 2008 recession, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics . Meanwhile, the average hourly earnings of workers in the private sector rose 1.9% in the past year, surpassing a national increase of 1.3%, according to the Joint Economic Committee of the United States Congress.
Business incentives include state tax credits for recycling old equipment; economic and infrastructure development grants; reimbursement for recruitment and training services; and funds for loans and grants for economic development.
To determine where small businesses thrive in Virginia, NerdWallet examined 112 communities with at least 5,000 residents.
Entrepreneurs looking to start a small business in Virginia will find resources in NerdWallet’s Small Business Guide. For funding, take a look at NerdWallet’s comparison of small business loans for a variety of needs.
Key points to remember
A strong local economy. The top 10 places have an average unemployment rate of 3.9%, well below the state and national average, and nine of the top 10 have median incomes above the national median income of $ 43,880, according to the most recent The data from the US Census Bureau.
Washington, DC, suburbs dominate. Six communities in the top 10 list are located within 80 kilometers of the nation’s capital: Tysons Corner, Fairfax, Warrenton, Falls Church, Vienna and Merrifield. Of these six locations, five are in or directly adjacent to Fairfax County.
Popular place for the company’s head office. Many large companies have made Fairfax County their home, including Booksfree.com, Capital One Financial, Freddie Mac, and Northrop Grumman. Meanwhile, the city of Vienna is home to the Navy Federal Credit Union.
The NerdWallet ranking
In our analysis of 112 locations in Virginia with populations of 5,000 or more, we considered six metrics across two categories – the business environment and the local economy – to assess each location. For more details, see the methodology section at the end of this article.
The best places to start a business in Virginia
1. Tyson’s corner
The unincorporated area of Tysons Corner serves as the central business district of Fairfax County; it houses 26.4 million square feet of office space. Tysons Corner companies have an average annual revenue of $ 11.4 million, which tops our list and is three times higher than any other location in our survey. Almost 45% of businesses in Tysons Corner have paid employees, and its 23.9 businesses per 100 people rank second among all communities in Virginia. The main employers are Boeing Co., Booz Allen Hamilton and Hilton Worldwide. The area is also home to the Tysons Corner Center, Virginia’s largest shopping mall.
The city of Fairfax has 25.3 businesses per 100 people, the highest number in the state, and its unemployment rate of 4% is below the state average and the national average. Top employers include the city itself and the Fairfax Nursing Center. Local businesses are served by the Fairfax Central Chamber of Commerce, which offers monthly networking events, educational workshops, marketing opportunities and leadership training.
The town of Warrenton, about an hour west of DC near Shenandoah National Park, has 21.2 businesses per 100 people, the fourth highest among communities in Virginia, and 40.1% of its businesses have paid employees. the Grand Warrenton Chamber of Commerce offers a business support team whose mission is to “support and educate local businesses towards sustainable profitability and success”. The chamber provides free professional advice, expertise and resources to its members.
The town of Abingdon has one of the lowest median monthly housing costs on our list, at $ 663, and has 19 businesses per 100 residents. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Highlands of southwest Virginia, Abingdon is an outdoorsman’s dream. The city is home to or near several historic and recreational trails, including the 34-mile Virginia Creeper Trail and the Appalachian Trail. Local businesses are served by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce in Virginia.
5. The Church of the Falls
Falls Church, a 20-minute drive from downtown DC, is in our top 10 because of its high percentage of businesses with paid employees (44%), 13.2 businesses per 100 people, and his median annual income of $ 91,932. Although the median annual monthly housing costs are high at $ 2,149, the city’s unemployment rate is low at 3.8%. Local businesses can turn to Falls Church Chamber of Commerce for networking and promotional opportunities.
Forest, near Lynchburg, has a high number of businesses per 100 residents (11.1) and low median monthly housing costs of $ 943. Over 45% of its businesses have paid employees, the fifth highest rate in our survey. Forest is home to Poplar Forest, which was the plantation home of Thomas Jefferson and now functions as a historic home and museum. Local businesses are supported by the Bedford Region Chamber of Commerce.
Located 17 miles west of downtown DC, the city of Vienna has 16.3 businesses per 100 residents, a high median annual income of $ 83,125 and an unemployment rate of 2.1%, the second lowest of all the communities in our survey. The city’s ranking is somewhat hampered by the high median monthly housing costs of $ 2,254. The top three employers in the area are the Navy Federal Credit Union, Fairfax County Public Schools, and Contemporary Electrical Services Inc. Vienna Business Association networking and promotional offer to its members.
The Merrifield area in Fairfax County ranks in our top 10 thanks in part to its high percentage of businesses with paid employees (43.7%) and its median annual income of $ 75,569. The Mosaic District, a collection of shops, restaurants and a movie theater, has made Merrifield a retail and entertainment destination in Fairfax County.
Hollins, a suburb of Roanoke, ranks high in part because its businesses generate an average annual revenue of $ 2.3 million each, and 51.2% of its businesses have paid employees, which is the highest in the state. Hollins also has an unemployment rate of 3.3%, well below the state and national average. Hollins is home to Hollins University, a private college for women with 550 undergraduate enrollments.
Ashland, 18 miles north of Richmond, is the smallest place in our top 10, with a population of 7,231. But the city enjoys a high average annual income of $ 2.25 million per business, an impressive 45.4% of businesses with paid employees, and a low median monthly housing cost of $ 902. Ashland is home to Randolph-Macon College, a private liberal arts and science college with a total enrollment of nearly 1,400 undergraduate students. Popular restaurants include O’Bank’s Cafe & Grill, Virginia Barbeque, Homemades by Suzanne, and Thai Gourmet Restaurant.
NerdWallet analyzed 112 locations in Virginia with a population of 5,000 or more. We excluded 11 locations with less than 500 businesses and 64 locations for which data from the US Census Bureau’s Business Owner Survey were missing.
The overall score for each community was calculated using the following criteria:
The average annual turnover of companies is 20% of the overall score. A higher average contributed to a higher score.
The percentage of companies with paid employees represents 25% of the overall score. A higher percentage contributed to a higher score.
The number of companies per 100 people represents 20% of the overall score. A higher number contributed to a higher score.
Local economic health, 35% of overall score, is based on three measures from the US Census Bureau’s American community survey.
The median annual income is 10% of the overall score. A higher median income contributed to a higher score.
Median annual housing costs represent 10% of the overall score. Lower median costs contributed to a higher score.
The unemployment rate for residents aged 16 and over is 15% of the overall score. A lower rate contributed to a higher score.
Former NerdWallet editor Steve Nicastro contributed to this article.
Image from Tysons Corner, Va., Via iStock.