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April 20, 2022

Maine's metros rank high among best US small cities for starting a business

File photo Bangor ranked No. 3 in New England, and No. 240 nationally, in a comparison of the best small cities for starting a business.

Four Maine cities dominate others across New England in a just-released ranking of the best small municipalities in which to begin a business.

Portland ranked second in the region and No. 222 nationwide in the comparison of 1,334 communities, conducted by personal financial website WalletHub. Only Woonsocket, R.I., at No. 211, placed higher among 81 New England cities and towns on the list.

Bangor was close behind Portland, at No. 3 in New England and No. 240 overall. South Portland and Lewiston rounded out the top five in the region, and ranked No. 385 and No. 528 in the U.S., respectively.

The WalletHub evaluation, published Monday, compared cities and towns with populations between 25,000 and 100,000, not including suburbs. Communities were ranked on the basis of 18 measurements related to business environment, access to business resources, and business costs. Criteria ranged from startups per capita to the average small-business loan size to the typical price of office space. 

Within the three categories of the evaluation, Portland ranked highest for its access to business resources, at No. 136, and also scored well for its business environment, No. 299. But the city placed far lower, No. 675, for the costs of starting a business.

Bangor scored so-so for its business environment, No. 766, and business costs, No. 456. But the Queen City was No. 49 when it came to resources, including access to financing, education and workforce availability.

Burlington, Vt., was the only other New England city with a category ranking in the top 100 — No. 80, also for access to resources — but ranked No. 590 overall. That placed Burlington No. 8 in New England.

East Hartford, Conn., and Lawrence, Mass., placed No. 6 and No. 7 in the region, respectively.

Nationwide, municipalities in the West and South ranked highest in the WalletHub analysis. The city of Washington, Utah, population 28,000, took the top spot in the U.S.

Ironically, the city of Cupertino, Calif., the home town of Apple Inc. and a few miles from where the computer giant began, ranked No. 1,334, the worst small city for starting a business.

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