PenFed Foundation study reveals top U.S. cities for veteran entrepreneurs in 2022

Washington D.C., New York City and Seattle retain top spots for second year in a row despite economic impacts of inflation

TYSONS, VA (October 27, 2022) — 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 2022 study, for the second year in a row, 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 2021 study, include Sioux Falls, Tampa, Cincinnati and Rapid 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 inflation, the study focused especially on how inflation impacts cities differently. The full study results can be found here.

“The military community’s resilience and entrepreneurial spirit is invaluable for our nation’s business sector. That’s why PenFed is proud to commission this study for the third year in a row highlighting the cities that are making strides to support veteran businesses,” said, PenFed Credit Union President/CEO and PenFed Foundation CEO James Schenck. “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.”

“Additionally, veteran-owned businesses often hire more veterans, so supporting veteran entrepreneurs provides more jobs and opportunities for the greater military community, who have served as PenFed’s base of membership since 1935,” added Schenck.

The top 20 cities for veteran entrepreneurs with (changes since the 2021 report) include:

1) Washington –Arlington –Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV Metro Area ( – )

2) New York –Newark –Jersey City NY-NJ-PA Metro Area ( – )

3) Seattle –Tacoma –Bellevue WA Metro Area ( – )

4) Dallas –Fort Worth –Arlington TX Metro Area (+1)

5) Houston –The Woodlands –Sugar Land TX Metro Area (+7)

6) Austin –Round Rock TX Metro Area (+7)

7) Sioux Falls SD Metro Area (+13)

8) Cleveland -Elyria OH Metro Area (-1)

9) Rapid City SD Metro Area (+12)

10) Boston –Cambridge -Newton MA-NH Metro Area (-4 )

11) Raleigh NC Metro Area (-2)

12) Tampa –St. Petersburg -Clearwater FL Metro Area (+12)

13) Madison WI Metro Area (+4)

14) Kansas City MO-KS Metro Area (-6)

15) Minneapolis –St. Paul –Bloomington MN-WI Metro Area (-9)

16) Chicago –Naperville –Elgin IL-IN-WI Metro Area (-12)

17) Columbus OH Metro Area (-1)

18) Cincinnati OH-KY-IN Metro Area (+11)

19) Jacksonville FL Metro Area (-4)

20) McAllen –Edinburg -Mission TX Metro Area (+6)

The top four emerging cities for veteran entrepreneurs are:

Sioux Falls SD Metro Area (+13)

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater FL Metro Area (+12)

Cincinnati OH-KY-IN Metro Area (+11)

Rapid City SD Metro Area (+6)

To paint the full picture of veteran support, city characteristics and entrepreneurship ability across the US, the study used a custom scoring algorithm based on a robust set of quantitative data from existing PenFed partners and openly available data sources. 390 metropolitan statistical areas were evaluated.

VEIP has a three-pronged approach to create a robust network for veteran-owned startups and businesses:

Education through virtual and in-person workshops;

Preparation through the Master’s Program, a yearlong fundraising accelerator, and Ignition Challenges; and

Investment of seed capital, providing access to other capital investment programs and connecting entrepreneurs to funders.

Since 2018, the PenFed Foundation VEIP has accelerated more than 350 veteran-owned startups and helped educate over 4,700 veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs.

To learn more about the PenFed Foundation’s work with veteran entrepreneurs, or to donate to the Foundation, please visit

About PenFed Credit Union

Established in 1935, Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) is America's second-largest federal credit union, serving 2.9 million members worldwide with nearly $35 billion in assets. PenFed Credit Union offers market-leading certificates, checking, credit cards, personal loans, mortgages, auto loans, student loans, and a wide range of other financial services with members' interests always in mind. PenFed Credit Union is federally insured by the NCUA and is an Equal Housing Lender. To learn more about PenFed Credit Union, visit, like us on Facebook and follow us @PenFed on X. Interested in working for PenFed? Check us out on LinkedIn. We are proud to be an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer.


Abagail Chambers
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