It appears small businesses survive and thrive best in small venues.

There are reasons why companies choose to headquarter in major metropolitan areas and reasons why they don’t. In a just-published survey, Forbes revealed its list of the best small places (populations of fewer than 245,000) for business and careers. The Midwest, for the most part, dominates when it comes to cost of living, cost of doing business, income growth, educational possibilities and projected economic growth.

If you can get past the snow, Sioux Falls, S.D., is the mecca for small-business success, judging from the fact that, for the seventh year in a row, it’s Number One on Forbes’ small-city list. “Credit business costs that are 26-percent below the national average, low crime rates and an economy that is expected to expand 4.1 percent annually over the next five years,” the magazine says. “Another enticement: South Dakota does not levy individual or corporate income taxes.”

However, Sioux Falls’ reign may be coming to a close, as its population is approaching 240,000.

Forbes’ research (aided by Moody’s also points to Iowa as a great place for small businesses, with five areas on the Top 20 list. “They share some similar characteristics like business costs at least 16-percent below the national average and crime rates that fare at least 16-percent lower,” it notes. “These metros are all home to top-ranked colleges that churn out a steady crop of highly educated labor. Employment in Dubuque is expected to increase 4.2 percent annually over the next three years, better than any other metro area (big or small) in the country.”

It continues, “Venture capital firms are starting to take note of Iowa as well. VC investment was up 50 percent in 2009 in Iowa to $84 million, while overall venture capital investment was down 35 percent, according to the annual MoneyTree survey from PricewaterhouseCooopers and the National Venture Capital Association.”

Here is the Forbes list of the Top 25 best places for small businesses, in order of ranking: Sioux Falls, S.D.; Iowa City, Iowa; Manhattan, Kan.; Bismarck, N.D.; Logan, Utah; Auburn, Ala.; Bend, Ore.; Columbia, Mo.; Fargo, N.D.; Morgantown, W.V.; Rapid City, S.D.; Lafayette, Ind.; Waterloo, Iowa; Sioux City, Iowa; Dubuque, Iowa; Bloomington, Ind.; Ames, Iowa; Charlottesville, Va.; Corvallis, Ore.; College Station, Texas; Lawrence, Kan.; St. George, Utah; Santa Fe, N.M.; Greenville, N.C.; and Billings, Mont.

CT Reports did some research of its own (using some quick information from the 2009 edition of the Cable Yellow Pages), and we came up with some cable and independent telco operators doing business in many of the Forbes-listed small metros:

  • Sioux Falls, S.D.: Knology, Midcontinent Communications,
  • Iowa City, Iowa: Mediacom,  PEC Cable,
  • Manhattan, Kan.: Cox
  • Bismarck, N.D.; Midcontinent Communications
  • Logan, Utah: Comcast
  • Bend, Ore.: Bend Broadband
  • Columbia, Mo: Charter, Mediacom
  • Fargo, N.D.: Cable One
  • Morgantown, W.V.: Comcast, West Side Telephone Co. 
  • Rapid City, S.D.: Knology, Midcontinent Communications,  Black Hills Phones, Prairiewave Communications
  • Waterloo, Iowa: Mediacom 
  • Sioux City, Iowa: Cable One
  • Dubuque, Iowa: Mediacom
  • Bloomington, Ind.: Comcast, Insight Communications
  • Ames, Iowa: Mediacom
  • Charlottesville, Va.: Comcast 
  • Corvallis, Ore.: Comcast
  • Lawrence, Kan.: Sunflower Broadband (Communications Technology’s “2010 System of the Year” winner)
  • St. George, Utah: Baja Broadband
  • Santa Fe, N.M.: Chaparral Cablevision  
  • Greenville, N.C.: Suddenlink 
  • Billings, Mont.: Bresnan Communications (recently acquired by Cablevision), USA Digital

To read more on the Forbes “best small metros” listing, click here.

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