Top 10 College Towns to Start a Business

Lafayette, IN, Columbia, MO, and East Lansing, MI are the US’ top three college towns for starting a business, a new study from TollFreeForwarding has revealed.  Gainesville is ranked as number seven, with business tax rates across all towns reviewed.

Drawing on existing data, the research combined six factors tailored to the needs of those launching a startup and used them to analyze 50 American college towns. It led to the following top 10: 

    1. Lafayette, IN
    2. Columbia, MO
    3. East Lansing, MI
    4. Ames, IA
    5. Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA
    6. Bozeman, MT
    7. Gainesville, FL
    8. Athens, GA
    9. Tacoma, WA
    10. Fargo, ND

 The study took a list of college towns compiled by Each town was ranked based on six factors vital to starting a new business: 

  •   Percentage of opportunity entrepreneurs 
  •   Percentage of startups that survive the first year 
  •   Average rental price of office space 
  •   Business tax rate score 
  •   Future job growth 
  •   Cost of living 

 Lafayette, IN, home to students at Purdue University, came top after scoring highly for three factors. The town came in the top seven on office rental space (1st at $16 per square foot per year), the cost of living (2nd with a score of 83.5), and the business tax rate (7th with a score of 10).  

In second, Columbia, MO, excelled on its rate of startups that survive the first year (1st with 85.32%) and the price of office rental space (8th at $20 per square foot per year). Rounding off the top three is East Lansing, MI, whose best-performing factors were the startup survival rate (8th with 81.47%) and the business tax rate (10th with a score of 13).  

 Iowa was the best-performing state with three placings in the top 20 towns, ahead of North Dakota and Minnesota who both have two.   

Jason O’Brien COO of said of the findings:  

“Your environment can play a huge role in the likelihood of your startup business being a success. Everything from local tax rates to the cost of living contributes to how difficult it is to get a business off the ground. Our research sought to provide budding new entrepreneurs with data on how suited their college town is as the base of their new business.  

“The lure of the big city is often too much for the business leaders of tomorrow, but our study shows that there are more than a handful of smaller college towns that are perfectly suited to building a strong business presence.”  

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