A rivalry between two fast-growing cities just got a little bit hotter.

Inc.'s first ever Surge Cities package, published in the Winter 2018/2019 issue, ranked the top 50 cities in America based on several factors relevant to entrepreneurs: job creation, wage growth, and early-stage fundraising deals, to name a few. Austin came in first on the list, followed by Salt Lake City.

The list's No. 3 city was Raleigh, which may have gotten somewhat under the skin of another major North Carolina city, located 160 miles away. Charlotte finished at No. 22.

Inc. executive editor Danielle Sacks, who oversaw the Surge Cities package, appeared on Charlotte TV station WBTV last week to discuss the city's ranking. (You can see the clip here.) Watching the segment, it's hard not to notice that host Jamie Boll compares Charlotte's ranking with that of Raleigh several times, pointing out that Raleigh beat Charlotte handily in categories like wage growth and early-stage fundraising deals.

Charlotte is home to 859,000 people and houses financial giants like Bank of America, Lending Tree, and Wells Fargo. Raleigh's population is a smaller 464,000, though the city has the advantage of being located in North Carolina's Research Triangle--an area that is home to Duke, N.C. State, and UNC-Chapel Hill. As Sacks points out, that provides it with a distinct advantage for this startup-centric list, since research universities are often hotbeds for innovation, capital, and talent.

It's not the first time Charlotte has ranked less favorably than its rival to the northeast. A 2017 analysis of the best cities in America to live in, by finance website 24/7 Wall St., ranked it at No. 26; Raleigh came in at No. 10.

Still, both cities have plenty of reasons to brag. And they're part of a rising entrepreneurial tide: Startups in North Carolina raised $1.1 billion in total in 2017, up 36 percent from the previous year.

And if a little rivalry drives those cities to be more welcoming to startups, even better.

Published on: Jan 23, 2019