23 Little Rock

PopulationMetro: 738,344
The largest city in Arkansas coaxes talent and investment with aggressive tax breaks and some of the most affordable housing among state capitals.

There’s nothing little about Little Rock’s appeal to business and entrepreneurship.

The city ranks #5 among small cities when it comes to attracting and retaining Fortune 500 companies. Chalk it up to southern hospitality, but a combination of business friendly taxes and competitive incentives helps as well.

A powerful and diverse corporate presence distinguishes Arkansas’s capital city, situated on the banks of the state’s namesake river that will likely surprise many people unfamiliar with this southern city—more proof that city officials have sharpened their pencils on the economic development front.

Dillard’s Department Stores, Windstream Communications and Acxiom are just a few of the national and multinational corporations headquartered in a city that has in the past suffered from an undeserved reputation as the capital of an underdeveloped state known mostly for the Ozark Mountains and other wilderness, and also as the place where former president Bill Clinton cut his political teeth.

Place 37
Product 48
Programming 29
People 50
Prosperity 65
Promotion 35

An impressive roster of internationally significant non-profits and foundations also call Little Rock home, among them the William J. Clinton Foundation, World Services for the Blind, and Heifer International. Little Rock also has a cost of living 5% below the national average and an affordable median home price of $140,100, that makes recruiting and retaining skilled employees that much easier.

Top that with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and its affiliates, which together employ 10,500 people and contribute $5 billion annually to the local economy, and Little Rock’s business climate starts to look even better.