2015 Best Places For Veterans
by: Troops to Trades
January 29, 2016
USAA and Hiring Our Heroes® commissioned Sperling’s BestPlaces to work with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University to create the top 10 lists. This year, they’ve found the top 10 metro areas that offer entrepreneurship opportunities, higher education or jobs that align with military skills sets. Find the place that’s best for you.
NUMBER 1 Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville earns the top spot by offering opportunity, growth and livability. Known as a tourist and retirement destination, the strong presence of veteran-owned businesses and small businesses per capita also indicate a strong foundation for veteran entrepreneurs. Even very small businesses, those with less than 10 employees, are plentiful, as 75% of Asheville businesses fall into this category. The area is also affordable, and the population and veteran wages have both increased in the last five years. An international airport is a little more than an hour away.
NUMBER 2 Sarasota, Florida
Sarasota’s economy is rallying with 8.8% population growth in the last five years, more than double the national average. The area exceeds the national average for number of veteran-owned businesses and small businesses per capita. Homes are regaining value, and Florida has a favorable tax climate. Three international airports are within an hour’s drive.
NUMBER 3 West Palm Beach, Florida
West Palm Beach is attractive due to a rebounding economy, as well as higher-than-average rates of veteran-owned businesses and number of small businesses per capita. Population has grown 9.2% over the last five years, more than double the national average, and West Palm Beach has the highest median household income among the top 10. Two international airports are within an hour’s drive.
NUMBER 4 Staunton, Virginia
The Staunton metro area earns its spot due to a strong presence of veteran-owned businesses and small businesses. The small metro area saw the greatest increase in veteran wages over the past five years (14.3%) as compared to other areas on the list. The area also offers affordability and a healthy housing market along with regional airport service.
NUMBER 5 Prescott, Arizona
Prescott, located 100 miles north of Phoenix, boasts the highest rate of veteran-owned businesses on the list at nearly twice the national average. The metro area benefits from strong job growth, higher-than-average veteran wage growth and higher-than-average numbers of small businesses and very small businesses (less than 10 employees) per capita. The area is also served by a regional airport.
NUMBER 6 Wilmington, North Carolina
This port city has seen strong population growth along with other indicators that point to opportunities for starting and growing a business. Wilmington also ranks above the national average in the key measures of small businesses per capita, the number of businesses with less than 10 employees and the number of veteran-owned businesses. An international airport is located in the metro area.
NUMBER 7 Missoula, Montana
Rugged Missoula is the smallest metro area among our top 10 places, but it claims the highest number of small businesses per capita, indicating an environment where a start-up can thrive. The area also has a strong number of veteran-owned businesses, as well as international airport service. Being a college town, Missoula can provide business owners with a local talent pool.
NUMBER 8 Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The largest metro area in the top 10, Fort Lauderdale shows population and job growth, along with a higher-than-average number of veteran-owned businesses and small businesses per capita. The percentage of very small businesses (less than 10 employees) is the highest among our top 10, at 80.7% of all businesses. The area also boasts a number of international airports.
NUMBER 9 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City continues to offer growth, affordability and business opportunities. Its population has grown 8.9% and jobs have increased 15.6% over the past five years. The metro area, which has regional airport service, also ranks above the national average in the number of veteran-owned businesses, small businesses and businesses with less than 10 employees per capita.
NUMBER 10 Ft. Walton Beach, Florida
The Fort Walton Beach area had the greatest population increase among our top 10 places at 10.5% over the last five years. The area, which has regional airport service, also ranks above the national average for small businesses per capita and the number of businesses with less than 10 employees. The rate of veteran-owned businesses is also above average.
Click here to learn more about the top ten places an how the list was put together.