Fargo, North Dakota

Fargo, North Dakota IMG: via FiledIMAGE / Shutterstock.com

Fargo, North Dakota is good for small town living – and now big business. Forbes has named the Midwest town as the top small city for business and careers, based on criteria like labor output, unemployment and economic growth. Fargo’s job growth has risen at a steady 1.8% annually the past five years, while unemployment sits at only 3%. Fargo’s economy grew by 7.3% in 2013 (it now sits at $14 billion), making it the fastest growing metro economy in the U.S. To add to their good fortune, economists are expecting a 5% increase in Fargo’s economy through 2016.

Education and healthcare play major roles in Fargo’s success. North Dakota State University is a major research center that employs more than 4,000 workers, and its alumni tend to stay and work in the state after graduation. Sanford Health, the city’s largest employer, has close to 7,000 workers and operates more than 200 clinics throughout both Dakotas. Microsoft also has more than 1,000 employees based in Fargo, with hi-tech employment numbers being double the size of its counterparts (i.e. cities of the same size).

Fargo also gets a boost from having a young – and therefore productive – population, as the majority of its residents are under 35. STEM professions have grown at a rate of 40%, compared to the nation’s 3% average. As science and technology continue to take over the nation’s workforce, it’s no wonder that Fargo is becoming a major player in the business world.

Other towns that made the list are College Station, TX (coming in second); Mankato, MN; Logan, UT; and Sioux Falls, SD, coming in at third, fourth and fifth, respectively. The cities were rated among the 184 metro areas with populations less than 260,000 people.