Report on Factors That Boost Metro Startup and Growth Rates Dispels Myths, Emphasizes Importance of Education

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Kauffman Foundation study, part of a series on business creation rates in metro areas, analyzes how regional factors play a role in entrepreneurial activity.

What may surprise people the most is how little has been known about what factors actually impact entrepreneurial growth, which is a primary goal of regions across the U.S. today.

A Kauffman Foundation report being released today highlights the impact of education on rates of business startups and growth in metropolitan areas, while disputing the impact of certain factors that previously have been touted for their influence.

The paper, “Beyond Metropolitan Startup Rates: Regional Factors Associated with Startup Growth,” reports on entrepreneurship activity in 356 U.S. metros as examined from three angles: the startup rate for all industries, the startup rate for high-tech sectors and the rate for high-growth firms.

Contrary to the conclusions of most earlier studies, this regionally focused analysis found that the public sector can affect few significant factors to encourage entrepreneurship. For example, despite billions of dollars in government research expenditures, which widely are believed to trickle down to the private sector, area research universities and patents do not contribute to higher rates of entrepreneurship.

“What may surprise people the most is how little has been known about what factors actually impact entrepreneurial growth, which is a primary goal of regions across the U.S. today,” said Yasuyuki Motoyama, Ph.D., senior scholar in Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation and co-author of the paper. “These findings provide policymakers with some clear guidance about where to focus their efforts.”

Education appears to be the most significant factor that the public sector may affect. Metropolitan areas with more college graduates will produce more startups; however, while college completion often is considered the minimum indicator of high skill, the study showed that a higher high school completion rate will further increase the area’s startup rate. Thus, it appears that policymakers best can influence entrepreneurship by finding ways to effectively connect these two factors.

Further, the study revealed that:

  •     Regions that enjoy substantial venture capital and other financial investments do not necessarily generate a higher ratio of startups. Consequently, a rush to create public venture funds holds little promise of generating more startups or establishing a startup culture.
  •     High-tech sectors are hotbeds for high-tech startups, but not for all kinds of startups. Thus, promoting high-tech entrepreneurship does not necessarily elevate the overall economy.
  •     Larger metros, not surprisingly, tend to have higher entrepreneurial rates, possibly because their economies are more diverse and resilient than those of smaller cities.

This first-ever compilation of metro-level data provides a basis for more rigorous research about regional factors and how they affect startups and entrepreneurial cultures.

The paper is part of an ongoing series of Kauffman Foundation reports on metropolitan entrepreneurship issues. Access this paper and the rest in the series here.

About the Kauffman Foundation
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that aims to foster economic independence by advancing educational achievement and entrepreneurial success. Founded by late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo., and has approximately $2 billion in assets. For more information, visit, and follow the Foundation on and

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