Today, the PenFed Foundation, a national 501(c)(3) founded by PenFed Credit Union, announced the findings of its annual study on the top U.S. cities for veteran entrepreneurs. The PenFed Foundation Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program (VEIP), which supports veteran-owned startups and businesses through access to networks and capital, conducted the study in partnership with Edelman Intelligence.

According to the 2021 study, Washington, D.C., New York, and Seattle proved to be the top cities for veterans to start their businesses. The top emerging cities, or those that made the most progress since the PenFed Foundation’s 2020 study, include Sioux Falls, Virginia Beach, and Kansas City. The study analyzed four main categories for each city, which include livability, economic growth, support for veterans, and ability to start a business. As the nation navigates the economic impacts of COVID-19, the study focused especially on city unemployment rates. The full study results can be found here.

“Military veterans are service-minded and often desire to continue to serve their communities in a meaningful way after transitioning to civilian life. At the PenFed Foundation, we are eager to help these veterans realize their entrepreneurial aspirations by connecting them with the education, preparation, and investment needed to support them,” said PenFed Foundation President and retired Army General John W. Nicholson Jr. “Part of this preparation includes creating ecosystems that veteran businesses can thrive in. We also know that veteran-owned businesses often hire more veterans, so supporting veteran entrepreneurs provides more jobs and opportunities for the greater military community.”

“The military community’s resilience and strength is invaluable for our nation’s business sector. That’s why PenFed is proud to commission this study highlighting the cities that are making strides to support veteran businesses,” said James Schenck, president and CEO of PenFed Credit Union and CEO of the PenFed Foundation. “We want to help cities across the United States understand which environments are best suited for military veterans to start and grow businesses and inspire city leaders to take the actions needed to support veteran entrepreneurs.”

The top 20 cities for veteran entrepreneurs with (changes since the 2020 report) include:

1)    Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metro Area (+1)
2)    New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metro Area (-1)
3)    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metro Area (+1)
4)    Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Metro Area (-1)
5)    Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metro Area (+2)
6)    Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI Metro Area (-1)
7)    Cleveland-Elyria, OH Metro Area (+3)
8)    Kansas City, MO-KS Metro Area (+10)
9)    Raleigh, NC Metro Area (+6)
10) Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metro Area (-4)
11) Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC Metro Area (+13)
12) Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX Metro Area (-1)
13) Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA Metro Area (+3)
14) Austin-Round Rock, TX Metro Area (-1)
15) Jacksonville, FL Metro Area (+4)
16) Columbus, OH Metro Area (+4)
17) Madison, WI Metro Area (-9)
18) Boise City, ID Metro Area (-1)
19) Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI Metro Area (-5)
20) Sioux Falls, SD Metro Area (+23)