Philly’s Business Environment Ranks Near Last in New Study

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Almost every day, some organization releases a report ranking U.S. cities. Best cities for buying a home. Best cities to start a restaurant. Best cities to raise a family.

I’m typically a bit wary of such studies because the methodology can seem sort of random. Remember when Condé Nast Traveler ranked Philly the second-best shopping city in the world[2] — ahead of Milan, Paris and New York? I love Walnut Street as much as the next person, but it’s safe to say that such rankings don’t always ring true.

But one recent study by Wallet Hub[3] caught my eye. It ranked Philly 148th out of 150 cities in “business environment.” (It was part of a larger study on the best cities to start a business[4], where Philly ranked a paltry 109th.)

At first, I thought the study didn’t make sense. Philly is booming these days, with revitalized neighborhoods, a burgeoning tech scene and a highly successful real estate market. Maybe the Wallet Hub people just haven’t visited in a while.

But the Wallet Hub data seems well-sourced from a host of different organizations like the Tax Foundation and the Council Community and Economic Research. So it’s worth taking a closer look.

Here’s a breakdown of Philly’s rankings:

Corporate tax structure: 146th out of 150 cities. (Chicago was the only major city that ranked lower.)

Cost of living: 126th

Percent of residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 112th (24.4 percent.)

Cost of office space rentals: 123rd ($21 per square foot).

Median annual income: 21st $36,200

Employee availability: 30th

Access to financing: 73rd

The best place to start a business? Apparently it’s Shreveport, La. For the best business environment, you’ll have to trek out to Tulsa, Okla.

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