This report offers the first-ever deep dive into the geographic trends of America's fastest growing private companies -- the Inc. 500. Inc. magazine's annual ranking, which began in 1982, has become an important point of pride for high-achieving companies and a source of research for economists. Not until now, however, has anyone dissected the past thirty years of comprehensive data from these high-growth companies. Through a partnership with Inc. magazine, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has done just that.
In this, one of a set of studies examining Inc. 500 data over time, we offer a geographic analysis of how regional characteristics are associated with fast-growing companies and innovations. Tracing hundreds of Inc. firms per year and thousands per decade, we have captured a range of innovations and analyzed the regions that continuously produce fast-growing companies.
Knowing that very little is understood about the geography of high-growth companies, we approached this analysis with a range of questions: where are the fast-growing Inc. firms located at the state and metropolitan levels? How have they shifted over time? Do we find greater geographic concentration of Inc. firms over time? How is the geography of Inc. firms different from commonly associated growth factors, such as high-tech industries, venture capital firms, and research universities?
As you review the findings of this report, keep in mind that the creation of another ranking is not our primary objective. It is more important to demonstrate different regions with different sectors and strengths, in contrast to previously identified areas that have been highlighted as strong producers of high-tech companies. Thus, our objective is to shed light on formerly understudied areas of economic development.