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Evanston named best for start-ups

Evanston has been named by BusinessWeek magazine as one of the top-50 best small cities in the U.S. for start-up businesses.

BusinessWeek chose one city from each state as the best location for starting a business based on such factors as affordability, labor pool talent, the "existence of a thriving business community," and the quality of life.

Using data from the San Francisco-based GIS Planning firm, BusinessWeek examined cities with populations of between 20,000 and 200,000.

Interviews were conducted with local entrepreneurs and 11 factors were analyzed to determine the list of best cities. Not surprisingly, other small cities which host major higher educational institutions like Northwestern University also made the list including: Cambridge, Mass., Ann Arbor, Mich., Boulder, Col., Providence, R.I., and Tempe, Ariz.

Other notable comparable small cities are those that are next to a major city in a large metropolitan area such as Bellevue, Wash., Fairfax, Va., and Overland Park, Kan.

Small cities with excellent public transportation like Evanston also made the list including White Plains, N.Y., Hoboken, N.J., and Columbia, Md.

Finally, small cities with unique quality of life features and extraordinary natural settings recur on the list such as Westport, Conn., Bozeman, Mont., Santa Fe, N.M., and Burlington, Vt.

“We are proud to be the ‘best in class’ of small cities in the U.S. where an entrepreneur will find a high probability of success,” said Evanston Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jonathan Perman.

“In these tough economic times, it’s significant that Evanston is recognized and is differentiated as we compete with other fine communities for business and jobs,” he added.

In the data analysis, Evanston scored particularly well in the percentage of workers with at least a bachelor’s degree, the number of young and educated workers — whose presence indicates Evanston’s success in attracting and retaining talent among those who are most mobile, the high-level of patents per capita — which shows Evanston as a place where innovative people are able to push the boundaries of research and development, the extraordinary number of small businesses present and the number of workers in the creative professions.

“As a small business entrepreneur who came to Evanston ten years ago because of the very attributes cited by BusinessWeek, I can attest to our city being a ‘best place’ to start a business,” said Evanston Chamber President Jim Marsh, owner of Grotto Communications.

As part of its economic development efforts, the Evanston Chamber has been reaching out to a number of business publications and media outlets to tout the strong Evanston business environment and the talent pool that is available.

With so many challenges facing local businesses, The Chamber is maximizing its marketing and communications strengths to reach new audiences across the nation and to tell the Evanston story.

The BusinessWeek Magazine article cites a quote from Doug Grimstead, chief executive officer of Evanston-based Aginity, a data analytics consulting firm. "It’s in the Midwest, so it’s not Silicon Valley, but it’s probably the closest you’re going to get. Northwestern is a great school with a lot of really good talent. It’s very close to Chicago, you can just hop on public transport and get into town. There’s a few VCs in town. Plenty of customers, lots of capital, and good people. The incubator provides a pretty good set of services. There’s a ton of entrepreneurs in Evanston."

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