The study looked at business environment, access to resources and business costs.
Sonya Gelter, owner of an air sanitation business in St. George, drove to Washington City to get her gel nails done at Organic Gel Nails. The small nail studio is owned by Leona Roberts, who started her business in 2013.
Neither was surprised when they heard that Washington City and St. George ranked number one and two as the best small cities in the U.S. for opening a business, according to WalletHub’s 2022 Best and Worst Small Cities To Start A Business.
“Because of the growth here, it’s a great place to start a business,” Gelter said. “And in my opinion, I mean, there are lots of opportunities here. Depending on what your business is. Online, as you know, it’s easy.”
WalletHub’s list includes a total of 10 Utah cities. Other cities listed in this ranking include Cedar City (#4), Logan (#8), Eagle Mountain (#9), Lehi (#14), Pleasant Grove (#20), Midvale (#21), American Fork (#25) and Orem (#28).
WalletHub based their data on various sources that looked at comparing 1,334 small cities with populations between 20,000 and 100,000 on three factors: business environment, access to resources and business costs.
Last year, Washington City ranked four on WalletHub’s list.
Mayor Kress Staheli credits the low regulation, low taxes, and minimal red tape as factors to the city making WalletHub’s list.
“We have roots that are allowing us to now transition into a phase of thriving without losing that hometown feel. Without losing our roots and our identity,” Staheli said. “That’s kind of who we are as a community.”
Established in 1857, Washington City grew from being a cotton farming town to more than 30,000 residents today. This week, the city celebrates its annual history with its Cotton Days Celebration.
Jordan Hess, public affairs officer for Washington City, confirmed that over 600 business licenses had been issued in 2021 and that there are now over 100 business licenses issued so far in 2022.
Exit 13 on Interstate 15 on the outskirts of town is bustling with new development, from hotels to restaurants, Hess said.
Staheli said that the city is working with the Utah Department of Transportation on a new exchange to the city. Known as exit 11, it will connect to the city’s downtown.
Meanwhile, St. George registered over 1,000 businesses in 2021 and has about 400 businesses registered this year.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy,” said David Cordero, communications and marketing director for the City of St. George. “This ranking is a testament to the business-friendly environment St. George has cultivated, combined with the high-quality of life we enjoy. St. George is a great place to live, work, eat and play.”
Gelter agrees that the greater metro area that makes St. George what it is makes her stay here. She’s lived in New York and Las Vegas, only to move back to raise her family.
“There’s just limitless outdoor hiking and activities,” Gelter said. “I just, I love it.”