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Alabama small businesses thrive in these counties

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August 11, 2023
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Alabama small businesses thrive in these counties

In 2021, the IRS received a whopping 5.4 million business applications—an all-time high since the U.S. government began tracking this data in 2004. The year with the second-highest number of new business applications? 2020. Today, small businesses employ nearly half of the nation's workers, according to a Chamber of Commerce report.

It's fair to say that the past few years have been banner years for small businesses, but what about regional differences? The business climate in a small town in Texas is likely not the same as a small town in Connecticut. The Chamber of Commerce report found that the Midwest was the most business-friendly region, thanks to the relatively low cost of living, well-educated workforce, and regulations lowering taxes and easing zoning restrictions for businesses.

Of course, the East and West coasts also have plenty to offer, from California's Silicon Valley and Hollywood studios to New York's financial hub to Massachusetts' prominence in the aerospace, defense, and information technology industries. A few states—including Delaware, Wyoming, and Nevada—even allow you to incorporate your business within their borders without ever setting foot there.

For even more specific data, let's take it a step further by analyzing counties. Are certain counties more friendly to small businesses than others? To pinpoint the areas where small businesses abound, altLINE used Census Bureau data to find the counties in Alabama with the highest concentration of small businesses in 2021, calculated as small establishments per 1,000 residents. Small establishments are defined as those with fewer than 500 employees. Counties with fewer than 1,000 residents were excluded from the analysis, as well as counties for which the Census Bureau didn't have population estimates.

Another important factor to consider: States where nonresidents are allowed to incorporate businesses will also have a higher ratio of small businesses to residents since not all small businesses are actually operated by people living in that state.

Taking a close look at the type of counties that topped the list in each state also reveals some interesting trends. World-class vacation destinations are well represented on the lists of each state, perhaps because tourists are looking to get a sense of how the locals live through small businesses like restaurants, bakeries, bars, and boutiques.

While the top counties in each state do include a few major cities, less populated counties with smaller towns are much more common. Although most of the nation's small businesses are located in major metropolitan areas, those that are located in rural areas tend to be more stable—possibly due to loyalty from local residents or the absence of competition from large corporations.

Keep reading to discover the counties in Alabama with the highest concentration of small businesses, and see how it compares across 50 states. It just might give you inspiration for your next endeavor.

This story features data reporting by Paxtyn Merten, writing by Annalise Mantz, and is part of a series utilizing data automation across 50 states.

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#50. Dale County

- Total small business establishments: 714 (14.5 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.9%
- 2021 population: 49,412

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Shackleford Photography // Shutterstock

#49. Cherokee County

- Total small business establishments: 366 (14.6 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.2%
- 2021 population: 25,026

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#48. St. Clair County

- Total small business establishments: 1,416 (15.2 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 100.0%
- 2021 population: 92,903

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#47. Talladega County

- Total small business establishments: 1,239 (15.4 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.6%
- 2021 population: 80,483

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#46. Autauga County

- Total small business establishments: 921 (15.6 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.7%
- 2021 population: 59,210

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#45. Randolph County

- Total small business establishments: 347 (15.6 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.7%
- 2021 population: 22,199

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#44. Sumter County

- Total small business establishments: 189 (15.8 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 97.9%
- 2021 population: 11,961

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#43. Jackson County

- Total small business establishments: 835 (15.9 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.8%
- 2021 population: 52,694

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#42. DeKalb County

- Total small business establishments: 1,149 (16.0 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.6%
- 2021 population: 71,829

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#41. Geneva County

- Total small business establishments: 427 (16.0 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.5%
- 2021 population: 26,667

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#40. Fayette County

- Total small business establishments: 261 (16.2 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 98.5%
- 2021 population: 16,155

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#39. Franklin County

- Total small business establishments: 527 (16.5 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.6%
- 2021 population: 31,996

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#38. Henry County

- Total small business establishments: 296 (17.0 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.0%
- 2021 population: 17,434

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#37. Barbour County

- Total small business establishments: 419 (17.1 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.1%
- 2021 population: 24,539

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#36. Chilton County

- Total small business establishments: 773 (17.1 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.7%
- 2021 population: 45,259

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#35. Wilcox County

- Total small business establishments: 178 (17.2 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 98.9%
- 2021 population: 10,331

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#34. Chambers County

- Total small business establishments: 596 (17.3 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.5%
- 2021 population: 34,446

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#33. Winston County

- Total small business establishments: 410 (17.3 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.8%
- 2021 population: 23,672

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#32. Lamar County

- Total small business establishments: 239 (17.4 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 98.8%
- 2021 population: 13,740

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#31. Crenshaw County

- Total small business establishments: 228 (17.5 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.6%
- 2021 population: 13,056

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#30. Lee County

- Total small business establishments: 3,118 (17.6 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.8%
- 2021 population: 177,655

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#29. Tuscaloosa County

- Total small business establishments: 4,150 (17.6 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.6%
- 2021 population: 235,668

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#28. Dallas County

- Total small business establishments: 674 (17.9 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.9%
- 2021 population: 37,565

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#27. Conecuh County

- Total small business establishments: 206 (18.2 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 100.0%
- 2021 population: 11,320

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#26. Coffee County

- Total small business establishments: 989 (18.3 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.8%
- 2021 population: 54,171

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#25. Etowah County

- Total small business establishments: 1,920 (18.6 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.7%
- 2021 population: 103,139

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Jennifer Kinkead McNutt // Shutterstock

#24. Marion County

- Total small business establishments: 546 (18.8 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.6%
- 2021 population: 29,006

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#23. Marshall County

- Total small business establishments: 1,871 (19.0 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.5%
- 2021 population: 98,316

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#22. Choctaw County

- Total small business establishments: 239 (19.1 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 98.0%
- 2021 population: 12,549

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#21. Tallapoosa County

- Total small business establishments: 788 (19.2 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.9%
- 2021 population: 41,132

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#20. Calhoun County

- Total small business establishments: 2,220 (19.2 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.9%
- 2021 population: 115,677

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#19. Walker County

- Total small business establishments: 1,243 (19.2 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.7%
- 2021 population: 64,629

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#18. Pike County

- Total small business establishments: 642 (19.6 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.2%
- 2021 population: 32,740

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#17. Cullman County

- Total small business establishments: 1,783 (19.9 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.8%
- 2021 population: 89,618

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#16. Monroe County

- Total small business establishments: 395 (20.2 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.5%
- 2021 population: 19,557

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#15. Escambia County

- Total small business establishments: 754 (20.6 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.9%
- 2021 population: 36,658

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#14. Lauderdale County

- Total small business establishments: 1,958 (20.6 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.9%
- 2021 population: 94,862

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#13. Morgan County

- Total small business establishments: 2,628 (21.3 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.7%
- 2021 population: 123,403

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#12. Colbert County

- Total small business establishments: 1,239 (21.5 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.6%
- 2021 population: 57,619

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#11. Covington County

- Total small business establishments: 831 (22.1 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.9%
- 2021 population: 37,542

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#10. Madison County

- Total small business establishments: 8,844 (22.3 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.6%
- 2021 population: 396,593

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#9. Mobile County

- Total small business establishments: 9,262 (22.4 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.8%
- 2021 population: 413,017

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#8. Butler County

- Total small business establishments: 430 (22.8 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 100.0%
- 2021 population: 18,855

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#7. Marengo County

- Total small business establishments: 440 (23.2 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 100.0%
- 2021 population: 18,961

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#6. Shelby County

- Total small business establishments: 5,437 (23.9 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.8%
- 2021 population: 227,428

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#5. Montgomery County

- Total small business establishments: 5,507 (24.3 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.7%
- 2021 population: 226,953

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#4. Baldwin County

- Total small business establishments: 5,986 (25.0 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.9%
- 2021 population: 239,361

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#3. Jefferson County

- Total small business establishments: 16,794 (25.1 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.7%
- 2021 population: 669,997

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#2. Houston County

- Total small business establishments: 2,771 (25.8 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.8%
- 2021 population: 107,453

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#1. Clarke County

- Total small business establishments: 593 (26.1 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.8%
- 2021 population: 22,715

This story originally appeared on altLINE and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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