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The Best Florida Cities for Small Business


Ben Goldstein

All signs point to Florida being one of the country’s hottest states for small business growth. SBA loans have exploded in Broward and Palm Beach counties this year, and optimism among Florida business owners is on the rise. But which Florida city is the best for starting a small business?

According to the Credibly Business Index, St. Petersburg is the most business-friendly city in Florida. St. Pete earned an Index rating of 79 based on the overall health of its 5,459 small businesses and its exceptional survival rate: Only 22% of St. Petersburg small businesses close within the first two years.

Coming in a close second was Fort Lauderdale, which scored a 78 on the Credibly Business Index. The Broward County seat has been a major driver of the area’s small business boom, with 9,319 unique small businesses generating about $19 million in annual revenue. Miami took the #3 spot in our best Florida cities list (Index score: 74), followed by Florida’s most populous city, Jacksonville (72).

On a less positive note, Cape Coral came in dead last among Florida cities, with an Index score of 25, based on the low average revenue of its 2,277 small businesses, and an intimidating two-year failure rate of 65%.

The Credibly Business Index takes data from the United States Census and the US Small Business Administration — such as the number of businesses in each city, their annual revenue, and how many businesses stay open after their first two years — and uses a proprietary calculation to crunch those variables into a single number on a scale of 1-100, which reflects the friendliness of those cities towards small businesses. For this analysis, we looked at 15 major cities in Florida spanning various geographic regions of the state and demographic makeups.

The full list of Florida cities on the Credibly Business Index is below…

St. Petersburg (CBI rating: 79)
Fort Lauderdale (78)
Miami (74)
Jacksonville (72)
Tampa (69)
Orlando (66)
Tallahassee (53)
Hialeah (51)
Gainesville (45)
Hollywood (42)
Pembroke Pines (37)
Coral Springs (36)
Miramar (29)
Port St. Lucie (26)
Cape Coral (25)

Fun fact: In 2014, Orlando and Miami were named the two best cities for food trucks in the U.S., with Tampa coming in at #9. If you’re interested in taking your restaurant on the road, download our free white paper to learn more about food truck ownership.

Previously — Credibly Business Index Names Chicago Best Midwest City for Small Business