News Column

Tulsa Gets Top Marks for Young Entrepreneurs

May 1, 2013
young entrepreneur

May 01--Make way Silicon Valley and Seattle; Tulsa is at the top among cities that support the dreams of young entrepreneurs, according to financial website Nerdwallet.

Tulsa startups' access to capital, and the area's low cost of living and unemployment rate, contributed to its No. 1 standing, Nerdwallet reported.

The first-place finish is apparently no surprise to Brian Paschal, executive director of TyPros (Tulsa's Young Professionals) and The Forge, a small business incubator.

"I can't say it's entirely shocking," Paschal said. "Tulsa is a great place to afford you the opportunity to do things full time that other established cities for entrepreneurs might not give you."

Among the top 10 cities listed, Nerdwallet put Tulsa just behind Houston in the amount of commercial and industrial loans of less than $250,000 granted by smaller banks. Houston topped that category at $250 million, while Tulsa community banks approved more than $125 million as of Dec. 31, according to the website's data culled from federal statistics for small loans.

"Obviously that issue gets brought up every day I'm working with entrepreneurs," Pashcal said. "Highlighting that we can actually get loans here is fantastic."

Nerdwallet agreed, putting Tulsa ahead of Tampa, Fla., Atlanta, Raleigh, N.C., and Oklahoma City in the overall list.

The website cited the "high availability of C&I loans."

Tulsa's percentage of residents with bachelor's degrees, however, paled at 29.5 percent compared with Seattle's 55.8 percent and Research Triangle hub Raleigh's 47.3 percent.

Paschal touted the array of Tulsa startups, including Medefy, which produces an application to gauge health insurance costs. The growing oil and gas sector also has produced new companies such as Bright Horizon Resources, Caballo Energy and others in recent years.

The Nerdwallet distinction is nice, but hopefully it's just a starting point for entrepreneurship locally, Paschal added.

"With that recognition comes some responsibility," he said. "Now is the time to coalesce the entrepreneurial community in Tulsa and prove to everyone we really deserve to be No. 1."

Nerdwallet's top 10 cities for young entrepreneurs

1. Tulsa

2. Tampa, Fla.

3. Atlanta

4. Raleigh, N.C.

5. Oklahoma City

6. Seattle

7. Minneapolis

8. Austin, Texas

9. Omaha, Neb.

10. Houston

Rod Walton 918-581-8457

rod.walton@tulsaworld.com

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(c)2013 Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.)

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