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Proud to Power the Data for Inc. Magazine’s Surge Cities List

For the second year, Startup Genome has joined Inc. Magazine to power the Surge Cities list of the 50 best metro areas for economic surge and startup growth in the United States. Surge Cities is a real-time measure of entrepreneurial growth in the U.S.
Arnobio Morelix
on December 12, 2019

Most observers miss the new geography of growth in the country, seeing only the giant coastal metros (like New York City and San Francisco) performing well with everyone else is relegated to “flyover country.” This perspective misses those cities that are surging—and thus driving the next phase of American growth. These Surge Cities are attracting talent, supporting entrepreneurs, and generating momentum.

The top 5 this year includes:

  1. Austin-Round Rock, TX 
  2. Salt Lake City, UT 
  3. Durham-Chapel Hill, NC 
  4. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 
  5. Boise City, ID 

Check out the full ranking, article, and data visualization in Inc. 

One reason Surge Cities are overlooked is that most measurements (and the lists based on them) are snapshots, and don’t capture growth and momentum. They miss the surge.

The Surge Cities Index fills this gap and helps answer several questions like:
  • “Where should I start my company?”
  • “Where should I put my next office?”
  • “Where should I look for talent?”
  • “As a recent grad, where should I start my career?”

Our Methodology

Startup Genome uses data to drive strategy decisions to accelerate economic growth and job creation, with governments in over 30 countries. We leveraged this experience to create the Surge Cities Index, calculating it using three key dimensions:

Growth, calculated by - 
Job Creation
  • Source: Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) Over-the-year percent change in the employment level / number of jobs
  • Timeframe: Q1, 2018 to Q1, 2019

Population Growth

  • Source: U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program
  • Timeframe: July 2017 to July 2018
  • % growth

Net Business Creation

  • Source: QCEW 
  • Timeframe: Q1, 2018 to Q1, 2019 
  • Over-the-year percent change in the number of business establishments

Opportunity, calculated by - 
Rate of Entrepreneurs
  • Source: CPS (Current Population Survey) and ACS (American Community Survey)
  • Timeframe: Jan-June 2019 for CPS and 2017 for ACS
  • % of adults who are entrepreneurs (including solo-preneurs, regardless of industry or employment status)

Wage Growth 

  • Source: QCEW
  • Timeframe: Q1, 2018 to Q1, 2019 
  • Over-the-year percent change in average weekly earnings


Innovation, calculated by - 
High-Growth Company Density
  • Source: Inc. 5000 and ACS
  • Timeframe: 2019 for Inc. data and 2017 for ACS
  • Number of high-growth companies for every 100,000 of the adult population (16 and over), per Inc. high-growth companies list (only including firms with $2 million + annual revenue and 20% y-o-y growth for 3 years)

Early-Stage Funding

  • Source: Startup Genome and PitchBook
  • Timeframe: June, 2018 to May, 2019
  • Number of early-stage funding deals for every 100,000 of the adult population (16 and over). Scored by ranges from 1 to 5.


Geographical Coverage
The Inc. Surge Cities Scores are calculated for the largest 100 metropolitan areas in the United States by population, using the February 28, 2013 OMB (Office of Management and Budget) definitions for the metropolitan areas.

Check out the full ranking and article in Inc.

Are you interested in how we use data to advise on strategy decisions? Please reach out to Adam Bregu ([email protected]) to learn more and meet our research team.


Contact Us

Our data shows that collaboration is at the core of the fastest growing startup ecosystems. We work with forward-looking organizations who understand that joining the global startup economy is key to to drive innovation and spur economic growth.