When we think about business trends and hot startups, we usually think of places like Silicon Valley and New York City. But the real growth opportunities for small business may be happening in some unexpected places. A recently released report from the Manhattan Institute, America’s Growth Corridors, identifies four regions of the country it dubs “growth corridors” that are not only growing strong today, but also present continuing opportunities for the future.
The four corridors are:
1. The Great Plains (Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas)
2. The Intermountain West (parts of New Mexico and Arizona, eastern California and western Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, as well as the non-coastal eastern regions of Oregon and Washington and all of Idaho, Utah, and Nevada)
3. The Third Coast (the Gulf states from Texas to Florida)
4. The Southeastern Industrial Belt (eastern Arkansas, all of Tennessee, and large swaths of Kentucky, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and southwestern Virginia)
In all but the Southeastern corridor, growth in the past 10 years has outpaced the national average. As a result, many of the nation’s fastest-growing big cities are located in the corridors, including Charlotte, Raleigh, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City and Denver.
What’s powering the growth corridors? The Manhattan Institute pinpoints several factors:
Population growth. Young families and immigrants (both from big cities on the coasts and from overseas) are moving to the regions in search of lower costs of living, a slower pace and a more attractive environment. In some areas, such as the Great Plains and the Intermountain West, many of these newcomers are highly educated; in others, education is still playing catch-up.
Better climates for business. Not only are costs of living and doing business lower in the growth corridors, but they generally have lower taxes and fewer regulations than locations such as New York City or California.
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We’re number two, so we try harder. “Staying hungry” is an important contributor to growth in these areas, the report notes. Incomes are lower so people are more motivated to make money by starting businesses or coming up with innovative ideas.
What industries are benefiting from—and spurring—growth? Energy, manufacturing and agriculture are playing a major role in the corridor states' revival. Technology-based businesses are also thriving in all four corridors—the report notes that all of them “have greatly outperformed the rest of the country in creating new science, technical and professional jobs.” The Intermountain West is home to most of the high-tech growth, largely due to its high percentage of well-educated workers.
You don’t have to start a high-tech, manufacturing or energy-related business to benefit from the growth corridors, however. With plenty of big businesses moving to or expanding in these areas, there are opportunities for entrepreneurs to provide products and services for bigger corporations, or for the employees who are flocking to the jobs there.
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These aren’t just U.S. businesses, either. Many global corporations are establishing presences in the growth corridors, such as the Korean and Japanese firms moving manufacturing to South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. Forming relationships with these firms could mean huge opportunities for your business.
What will the growth corridors mean to the future? The report predicts that perhaps the coastal regions like New York and California will become “slower-growth” regions as a counterbalance to the rapid growth in the corridors.
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