Leslie Turk

Fortune: Lafayette among best cities to launch a biz

by Leslie Turk

Fortune Small Business magazine ranks Lafayette among the top 50 best cities in the country to launch a business. In the mid-size communities category, Lafayette is No. 2, behind Huntsville, Ala. The magazine lists 10 large places (Oklahoma City is No. 1), 20 midsize and 20 small.

"Growing economies, affordable workers, stable housing markets, low crime — these metro areas have all the features entrepreneurs need to thrive," the editors write. This year the magazine partnered with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to find the 50 most business-friendly communities in America. With help from Robert Fairlie, an economist and leading scholar of entrepreneurship at the University of California, Santa Cruz, it developed a methodology and sifted through data on factors such as per capita income, hourly wages, workforce quality, crime rates, taxes and foreclosures. It also looked at population size. "While some entrepreneurs prefer to locate near major cities, others opt for the intellectual spark and intimacy of college towns and other small, close-knit communities," the magazine notes. "One size doesn’t fit all, so our list is divided into three tiers: small, midsize and large metro areas."

Then it sent reporters to the top places. "Over the course of several months, we spoke with hundreds of entrepreneurs and economic development officials about the pros and cons of metro areas throughout the U.S. Using those findings, we adjusted our rankings and picked this year’s winning places."

Read more on how the 2009 cities were chosen here. The magazine also asked entrepreneurs like Marcus Brown how their hometown treats business owners.