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West Virginia small businesses thrive in these counties

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August 11, 2023
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West Virginia 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 West Virginia 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 West Virginia 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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#55. Lincoln County

- Total small business establishments: 155 (7.7 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 98.7%
- 2021 population: 20,191

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#54. Clay County

- Total small business establishments: 64 (8.1 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 95.5%
- 2021 population: 7,895

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#53. Doddridge County

- Total small business establishments: 68 (8.8 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 95.8%
- 2021 population: 7,739

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#52. Wirt County

- Total small business establishments: 52 (10.3 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 98.1%
- 2021 population: 5,059

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#51. McDowell County

- Total small business establishments: 194 (10.5 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.5%
- 2021 population: 18,413

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#50. Boone County

- Total small business establishments: 235 (11.0 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.6%
- 2021 population: 21,367

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#49. Wayne County

- Total small business establishments: 459 (11.9 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.4%
- 2021 population: 38,533

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#48. Mason County

- Total small business establishments: 314 (12.4 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.7%
- 2021 population: 25,290

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#47. Taylor County

- Total small business establishments: 205 (12.4 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 97.6%
- 2021 population: 16,483

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#46. Barbour County

- Total small business establishments: 199 (12.9 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 98.0%
- 2021 population: 15,445

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#45. Wyoming County

- Total small business establishments: 271 (12.9 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.3%
- 2021 population: 20,991

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#44. Summers County

- Total small business establishments: 156 (13.1 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 100.0%
- 2021 population: 11,892

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#43. Monroe County

- Total small business establishments: 164 (13.2 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 97.6%
- 2021 population: 12,383

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#41. Hampshire County

- Total small business establishments: 310 (13.3 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.4%
- 2021 population: 23,374

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#41. Gilmer County

- Total small business establishments: 98 (13.3 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 98.0%
- 2021 population: 7,389

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#40. Morgan County

- Total small business establishments: 231 (13.4 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 100.0%
- 2021 population: 17,280

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#39. Webster County

- Total small business establishments: 111 (13.4 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.1%
- 2021 population: 8,286

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#38. Calhoun County

- Total small business establishments: 83 (13.5 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 97.6%
- 2021 population: 6,165

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#37. Berkeley County

- Total small business establishments: 1,708 (13.5 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.7%
- 2021 population: 126,194

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#36. Mingo County

- Total small business establishments: 316 (13.7 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 100.0%
- 2021 population: 23,094

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#35. Tyler County

- Total small business establishments: 118 (14.3 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 98.3%
- 2021 population: 8,243

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#34. Preston County

- Total small business establishments: 508 (14.8 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.6%
- 2021 population: 34,270

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#33. Roane County

- Total small business establishments: 221 (15.9 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.1%
- 2021 population: 13,912

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#32. Jefferson County

- Total small business establishments: 938 (16.0 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.8%
- 2021 population: 58,520

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#31. Marshall County

- Total small business establishments: 494 (16.4 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.4%
- 2021 population: 30,208

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#30. Mineral County

- Total small business establishments: 443 (16.5 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.8%
- 2021 population: 26,866

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#29. Jackson County

- Total small business establishments: 460 (16.6 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.4%
- 2021 population: 27,761

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#28. Pleasants County

- Total small business establishments: 127 (16.7 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 100.0%
- 2021 population: 7,612

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#27. Brooke County

- Total small business establishments: 374 (16.9 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.7%
- 2021 population: 22,109

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#26. Fayette County

- Total small business establishments: 681 (17.0 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.7%
- 2021 population: 40,083

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#25. Logan County

- Total small business establishments: 551 (17.3 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.8%
- 2021 population: 31,917

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#24. Hancock County

- Total small business establishments: 540 (18.9 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.3%
- 2021 population: 28,591

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#23. Hardy County

- Total small business establishments: 271 (19.2 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 98.2%
- 2021 population: 14,155

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#22. Braxton County

- Total small business establishments: 238 (19.4 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 100.0%
- 2021 population: 12,293

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#21. Mercer County

- Total small business establishments: 1,167 (19.7 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.7%
- 2021 population: 59,215

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#20. Marion County

- Total small business establishments: 1,109 (19.8 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 100.0%
- 2021 population: 56,117

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#19. Putnam County

- Total small business establishments: 1,205 (21.0 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.7%
- 2021 population: 57,355

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#18. Grant County

- Total small business establishments: 235 (21.4 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.6%
- 2021 population: 11,009

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#17. Lewis County

- Total small business establishments: 361 (21.4 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 100.0%
- 2021 population: 16,897

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#16. Upshur County

- Total small business establishments: 511 (21.5 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 100.0%
- 2021 population: 23,820

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#15. Ritchie County

- Total small business establishments: 185 (22.1 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 98.4%
- 2021 population: 8,388

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#14. Nicholas County

- Total small business establishments: 543 (22.2 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.6%
- 2021 population: 24,415

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#13. Raleigh County

- Total small business establishments: 1,651 (22.4 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.9%
- 2021 population: 73,801

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#12. Wetzel County

- Total small business establishments: 319 (22.5 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 100.0%
- 2021 population: 14,195

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#11. Monongalia County

- Total small business establishments: 2,399 (22.5 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.8%
- 2021 population: 106,487

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#10. Wood County

- Total small business establishments: 1,891 (22.6 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.8%
- 2021 population: 83,791

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#9. Randolph County

- Total small business establishments: 645 (23.1 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.4%
- 2021 population: 27,891

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#8. Pendleton County

- Total small business establishments: 141 (23.2 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 98.6%
- 2021 population: 6,078

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#7. Tucker County

- Total small business establishments: 155 (23.2 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 98.7%
- 2021 population: 6,675

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#6. Cabell County

- Total small business establishments: 2,286 (24.5 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.7%
- 2021 population: 93,494

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#5. Kanawha County

- Total small business establishments: 4,487 (25.2 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.8%
- 2021 population: 177,993

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#4. Greenbrier County

- Total small business establishments: 878 (26.9 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.9%
- 2021 population: 32,698

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#3. Harrison County

- Total small business establishments: 1,770 (27.1 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.9%
- 2021 population: 65,436

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#2. Pocahontas County

- Total small business establishments: 220 (27.9 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.5%
- 2021 population: 7,890

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#1. Ohio County

- Total small business establishments: 1,283 (30.6 per 1,000 residents)
- Share of establishments that are small: 99.8%
- 2021 population: 41,878

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

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