CEDAR CITY — When considering cities to start a small business, Utah consistently ranks high in research studies by personal finance company Wallethub.

A view of development occurring near I-15 on the south side of Cedar City, Utah, May 22, 2024 | Photo by Haven Scott, St. George / Cedar City News

In their annual report for “2024 Best and Worst Places to Start a Business,” Wallethub researchers named nine Utah cities among the 30 best small metropolitan areas naitonwide in which to start a small business.

Similar to 2022, three cities listed from Southern Utah were among the top five. Researchers compared data from more than 1,300 small-sized cities.

“Our data set of 18 key metrics ranges from the growth rate of the number of small businesses to investor access and labor costs,” Wallethub researchers said. “The best cities can even help new businesses survive economic shocks such as pandemics or inflation.”

No. 1: Cedar City

Cedar City residents experience the fourth-lowest average commute time at 13 minutes, as well as the fourth-highest growth in the number of small businesses between 2015 and 2021, according to Wallethub analysts.

Cedar City Business and Innovation Center, located at Southwest Tech, provides assistance for those looking to start a small business in Cedar City, Utah, May 22, 2024 | Photo by Haven Scott, St. George / Cedar City News

Gabbie Costello, Cedar City community relations and public information officer, said one of the reasons the city consistently ranks in the top five is due to access to government grants and help from many small business resources.

An example would be the five businesses recently awarded funding through the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity Rural County Grant Program.

“We hope to continue this program as long as funding is received and is available,” Costello said. “We are always looking for other sources to assist small businesses. Supporting small businesses remains a top priority in Iron County.”

No. 2: St. George

The finance company’s research stated that St. George has some of the cheapest office space in the country, averaging $10.73 per square foot, while the most expensive city charges over $60 per square foot.

“St. George residents have short commutes, too, at around 16 minutes on average,” Wallethub financial writer Adam McCann said. “All of these factors allow entrepreneurs to minimize costs while maximizing their chances of success.”

Known historically as Washington Fields, the agricultural fields have been turning into housing and shopping centers in Washington City, Utah, May 7, 2024 | Photo by Haven Scott, St. George News

No. 4: Washington City

Residents in the town known for Cotton Days celebrations experienced first-place status two years in a row as a great place to start a business. In 2024, Washington City was ranked behind its perennial Southern Utah counterparts in the annual research.

Jordan Hess, public affairs officer in Washington City, previously told St. George News that the city’s civic leaders overhauled business license codes — cutting the code in half — and removed many barriers to starting a business.

“The city issued 565 new business licenses in 2022 alone,” Hess said. “Much of the growth in Washington City in past decades has been residential, but commercial growth is on the rise.”

Northern Utah

Southern Utah isn’t the only great place in the Beehive State to start a business, the research concluded. In the Wallethub national rankings, Lehi ranked No. 8, Eagle Mountain No. 12, Midvale No. 14, Springville No. 19, Spanish Fork No. 26 and Orem No. 28 to round out the top 30.

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