Delray Beach Ranked No. 5 Small City For Small Businesses

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Staff report

Delray Beach is No. 5 out of 50 small cities that are the best places to start a small business, according to a new report from Verizon Business.

The report evaluated 300 cities across the country with populations between 50,000 and 75,000.

It looked at six factors including the education level of the local workforce, in-city commute times, per capita income, broadband access, availability of SBA loans, and overall tax friendliness. Eight Florida cities made the list, with Delray Beach claiming the second highest rank among them.

Weston edged out Delray as the No. 2 city. Portland, Maine took the No. 1 spot.

“In the last several years, we’ve worked very deliberately to build an ecosystem of support to help small business start up, grow and thrive in our community,” said Economic Development Director Joan K. Goodrich. “It’s encouraging to know that our collaborative efforts with our community partners have helped make Delray Beach one of Florida’s leading communities for entrepreneurs and small businesses.”

According to the Verizon Business report, smaller cities can be an attractive option for small business owners looking for an industrious region to grow, while avoiding the chaos and competition of large cities.

This is what the report said about Delray Beach:

“There’s more of a draw to this city than its spread of sunny beaches along the southeastern coast of the state. Not quite as high on the education scale as Weston but higher than Kissimmee, Delray Beach is a happy Floridian medium with the shortest average commute time between the three cities. It enjoys a thriving industry of restaurants, nightclubs, retail shops, and art galleries, which is important to keep in mind when considering where to put your business’s roots down. And hey, the beach might not be the most important thing, but a beach day every now and then definitely couldn’t hurt.”

Delray Beach Commissioner Ryan Boylston is also a small business owner. His office on Atlantic Avenue houses his creative agency 2TON and a co-working space for small business start-ups called the KTCHN.

“Delray Beach’s small business ecosystem extends far beyond our famous Atlantic Ave. merchants and restaurants,” he said. “We are a secret entrepreneur magnet because of our work/life atmosphere. Seems the secret is out now.”

Delray Beach has focused on small business growth as part of its overall economic development strategy, as more than 93 percent of its companies are small businesses employing 30 or fewer people.

To do so, in 2015, the Office of Economic Development (OED) launched its multi-faceted business retention and expansion strategy called G.E.A.R. (Grow, Expand and Retain) along with its “We Heart Small Biz” campaign to recognize the social and economic impact of local small businesses.

The strategy encompasses quarterly partner meetings, report cards, client referrals, an account management system, business walks, industry roundtables, market research, planning studies, responsive small business policy development and emerging business services.

The Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency also offers several funding assistance programs that have helped many small businesses get established, create jobs and renovate buildings.

For more than 20 years, the CRA has produced the Delray GreenMarket, a family friendly Saturday morning farmer’s market that incubates food-and agriculture-based small businesses. In 2017, the CRA launched the Arts Warehouse, a 15,000-square-foot arts incubator and event facility, in the Pineapple Grove Arts District.

“It is an honor for the City of Delray Beach to be recognized by Verizon Business as a leader for small business development and entrepreneurship,” said Jeff Costello, Executive Director of the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency. “Supporting a constructive relationship with small businesses within Delray Beach has lead to the growth of the local economy.”

Other local economic development partners supporting small businesses include the Downtown Development Authority, Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce, Delray Beach Public Library, Small Business Development Center @ FAU.