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1. California, 676 companies2. Texas, 356 companies3. New York, 342 companies4. Virginia, 299 companies5. Florida, 269 companies6. Illinois, 234 companies7. Georgia, 202 companies8. Pennsylvania, 191 companies9. Ohio, 186 companies10. Massachusetts, 184 companies
Technology and Internet start-ups remain strong in California this year, but they’re not the only companies flocking to the Golden State. This year’s list also includes companies like Oakland’s Revolution Foods, which is working to improve nutrition in the nation’s schools. The state’s top listing this year was taken by Solazyme, a biotech firm that makes fuel from microalgae, at No. 2. Noteworthy fact: The state is inching toward race and gender parity in business ownership. Between 2002 and 2007 (the most recent numbers) minority ownership of the state’s small businesses increased 33.4 percent.
The Lone Star State’s top company on the Inc. 5000 this year is Gold & Silver Buyers, at No. 8. The most recent numbers counted 391,010 businesses with fewer than 500 employees in Texas, many of them in the science and technology, healthcare or construction industries. The state’s "Wide Open for Business" slogan is backed by real money: loans, tax incentives, funds for technology development, and training assistance. Between 2007 and 2011, while the national job market shrank, Texas added 157,400 jobs. Maybe you heard Governor Perry mention that in his Presidential campaign.
New York may trail California and Texas in numbers of growth companies, but it does have Ideeli, the flash deals site that tops the Inc. 5000 this year. The company, which completed a $41 million C round of funding in April, has asserted itself as a leader in the still vaguely defined market. The state’s Small Business Development Center noted in its 2010 report that “niche market and specialized manufacturing” are two of the state’s fastest growing industries.
When bewigged men struck a backroom deal to move the nation’s capital to the east bank of the Potomac, they laid the foundation for a booming government services industry on the other side. Indeed, Integrity Management Consulting, in McLean, which provides acquisition and program management support to the Department of Defense, among other government bodies, is the state’s highest-ranked Inc. 5000 company this year, at No. 44. Virginia also functions as a shipment and transportation hub: About 55 percent of American consumers and manufacturing establishments are within 750 miles of the state's capital.
Florida is still struggling to emerge from the collapse of the real estate and construction market, which hit the once booming cities of the Sunshine state particularly hard. But there are plenty of signs of hope. Florida’s key economic movers remain tourism and international trade (40 percent of all imports from Latin and South America come through the state). But a scrappy technology sector is on the rise, represented by companies like Crystal Clear Technologies of St. Petersburg, an IT and communications technology services firm that ranked No. 5 on this year’s Inc. 5000.
Illinois offers a bit of everything right now. As of 2008, 11.3 percent of the state’s six million workers were employed in manufacturing. Chicago remains a transportation and shipping hub. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity points out that one fifth of the Gross National Product comes from the Midwest, and that nearly half of America’s goods and services are produced within a short trip of the Illinois state line. Other companies, like Illinois’ top entry on this year’s Inc. 5000 list, server and cloud computing company SingleHop, could locate anywhere, but choose to stay in Illinois.
Georgia is mounting a serious push behind small business through programs that train new members of the workforce and improve transportation. Georgia has been touting one business-rich area between Atlanta and Athens as Innovation Crescent for its cluster of biotechnology companies. There are aggressive loan and funding incentives to bring other industries to the area. Valuation Management Group, Georgia’s top entry on this year’s Inc. 5000 list, operates from Marietta, a suburb of the capital.
Businesses in Pennsylvania continued to struggle against nation-wide economic malaise in 2010, reported the state’s Small Business Development Center. The SBDC was doing everything it could to get small businesses back on their feet in the state, hosting 344 educational programs and organizing 50,956 hours of management consulting in the first half of 2010 alone. Drilling for natural gas continues in the region known as the Marcellus Shale, activity some argue may bring needed jobs to the state but which some experts claim may have serious ecological repercussions. Which makes it all the more interesting that it is solar energy provider re2g that places first on the state’s fastest growing small businesses, ranking No. 24 on the Inc. 5000 overall.
Ohio is working hard to improve the strength of its workforce through programs like Energizing Careers, as well as doing everything it can to ensure that those workers stayed in state and employed. The state’s Early Warning Network works to avert layoffs by identifying companies that are considering downsizing and then giving them the resources they need to retain jobs. Non-governmental parties are taking notice, and the Ohio Department of Development reported $20 billion in private investment between 2007 and 2009. Ohio’s top-ranked company on the Inc. 5000 this year is Product Movers, a designer and manufacturer of reusable packaging that is based in Holland, in the northwest of the state.
Small business represents 85 percent of all companies in Massachusetts. The economic climate was unpredictable in 2009, but the Massachusetts Bankers Association reported that lending to small businesses dropped only about a third as much as the national average. Though Main Street is in disarray, that doesn’t keep people from going out on the town. Massachusetts’ fastest growing small business this year was Big Night Entertainment, which placed at No. 4. The company was founded in 2006 by two seasoned nightclub owners, and has won contracts to open venues at Foxwoods Resort Casino as well as in Boston.