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Updated: January 17, 2024

How Maine stacks up as a place to start a business

Map graphic of United States showing Maine's rank as No. 27 Map / Courtesy of WalletHub In a WalletHub ranking of the "Best and Worst States to Start a Business," Maine is No. 27 out of 50 states.

As a place to get a new business off the ground, Maine ranks among the lower half of U.S. states, according to a WalletHub study released Monday. Still, the Pine Tree State scores higher than its neighbors in New England.

To pinpoint the most fertile grounds for launching and growing an enterprise, researchers compared the 50 states across 25 key indicators of startup success. 

Scores were assigned for business environment, which took into account factors including the average work-week length and growth in the number of small businesses; access to resources including finance, higher education and human capital; and business costs from office rent to labor costs, cost of living and corporate taxes.

Maine ranked No. 27 overall, with a far better showing for its business environment (No. 21) and business costs (No. 25) than for access to resources (No. 46).

Despite the mixed report card from WalletHub, Susan Ruhlin, managing director of the Dirigo Labs startup accelerator in Waterville, points to evidence that Maine is rapidly establishing itself as a prime location for business startups.

"This emerging trend is fueled by an influx of new residents, bringing a rich diversity of skills and perspectives," she told Mainebiz. "Additionally, Maine's evolving ecosystem of entrepreneurial support organizations means that new ventures here have access to extensive resources and assistance. This combination of fresh talent and robust support structures coupled with a wonderful quality of life is making Maine an increasingly attractive destination for new businesses."

Utah, Georgia and Florida were Nos. 1, 2 and 3 on the overall WalletHub list, while Rhode Island was ranked No. 50. Among other New England states, Massachusetts was No. 36 overall, Vermont was No. 39, New Hampshire was No. 45 and Connecticut was No. 49.

Citing data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the report noted that about one-fifth of all startups typically don't survive past their first year of operation, and nearly half never make it to their fifth anniversary. 

Other findings

  • Iowa has the cheapest average annual rent for office space — 2.2 times cheaper than in New York, where it is most expensive.
  • Mississippi has the lowest labor costs (median annual income) — 1.9 times lower than in Maryland, which has the highest.
  • Massachusetts has the highest share of the population with a college education — 2.1 times higher than in West Virginia, which has the lowest.
  • Wyoming has the most startups per 100,000 residents — 3.7 times more than in West Virginia, which has the fewest.

Find the full report on the "Best & Worst States to Start a Business" here.

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