Most entrepreneurial cities may not be where you think

by Ryan Streeter on November 16, 2012. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Where are the hottest spots in the nation for fast-growing firms? Maybe not where you think.

This new Kauffman study (PDF) does as good a job as I’ve seen analyzing the geography of entrepreneurship. It looks at Inc. 500 firms over thirty years, and it then factors their growth against the size of the metro area where they are located. What you end up with, then, is a list of the cities with the most fast-growing firms per million people.

The list has some places you’d expect, but others that you won’t. My hometown, Indianapolis, ranks 6th, right behind Boston and just before San Jose. Washington, DC ranks 1st, proving the sad point that the scale of government privileges new firms that benefit from its contracting practices. Here’s the list of the top 20: