November 05, 2015 08:25 ET

USAA and Hiring Our Heroes Announce Best Places for Veteran Entrepreneurs

List Identifies Metro Areas for Veterans Seeking Entrepreneurship Opportunities

SAN ANTONIO, TX--(Marketwired - November 05, 2015) - Asheville, N.C., is the best place in the nation for veterans entrepreneurs according to a new study commissioned by USAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Hiring Our Heroes.

The 2015 "Best Places for Veterans" entrepreneurs list identifies U.S. metro areas that offer a robust veteran-owned and small business environment. The full entrepreneurship list includes:

Asheville, N.C.
Sarasota, Fla.
West Palm Beach, Fla.
Staunton, Va.
Prescott, Ariz.
Wilmington, N.C.
Missoula, Mont.
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Oklahoma City
Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

"Entreprenuership is one avenue that separating service members are encouraged to consider through the military's Transition Assistance Program, and early planning can help them succeed," said Eric Engquist, an assistant vice president at USAA and Army veteran. "This list, along with USAA's other transition resources such as the military separation checklist and assessment tool, can help aspiring veteran entreprenuers map out their financial plan well in advance of transition."

"Our mission is to make sure every service member leaving the military makes an informed decision about his or her next step," said Eric Eversole, vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and president of Hiring Our Heroes. "This list identifies the top places for those veterans who want to use their discipline and determination to start and grow a small business."

USAA, a leading financial services provider to the military community, and Hiring Our Heroes commissioned Sperling's BestPlaces and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University to create or provide data for this list. The four organizations worked together to determine measurable variables for 401 major U.S. metropolitan areas, which are defined as one or more central cities including the surrounding county or counties. The variables for the entrepreneurship list included:

Veteran-owned businesses per capita
Small businesses per capita
Percentage of very small businesses
Certification/license transfers
Presence of colleges

Retirement tax climate
Airport nearby
Health resources

Best Places for Veteran Entrepreneurs

Each variable was weighted and each metro area was then ranked based on its total points for all variables. Metro areas with the following attributes were excluded from the list: unemployment rate more than 1 percent above the 2014 national average, property and personal crime in the top five percentile and median cost of living more than 20 percent above the national average. More information about this year's criteria can be found at

"This list helps veteran entrepreneurs know where other veteran business owners and small businesses are plentiful, where there is a local talent pool for hiring and where they can put their benefits and skills to work," said James Schmeling, managing director at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families. "Separating service members also benefit from the affordability and accessibility these places offer. We know from our work delivering the Small Business Administration's Boots 2 Business entrepreneurship track in the Transition Assistance Program that geographic location choices are very important to veteran and family member entrepreneurs."

USAA and Hiring Our Heroes also commissioned lists of the top metro areas for veterans seeking higher education opportunities and careers that align with military skills sets. Visit to see all of the lists.

About USAA

The USAA family of companies provides insurance, banking, investments, retirement products and advice to 11.1 million current and former members of the U.S. military and their families. Known for its legendary commitment to its members, USAA is consistently recognized for outstanding service, employee well-being and financial strength. USAA membership is open to all who are serving our nation in the U.S. military or have received a discharge type of Honorable -- and their eligible family members. Founded in 1922, USAA is headquartered in San Antonio. For more information about USAA, follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@USAA), or visit

About the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is dedicated to strengthening America's long-term competitiveness and educating the public on how the free enterprise system improves society and the economy.

This list does not represent any endorsement, expressed or implied, by the Department of Defense or any other United States government agency.

The trademarks, logos and names of other companies, products and services are the property of their respective owners.

About the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF)

The IVMF is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, education and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service. Through our focus on veteran-facing programming, research and policy, employment and employer support, and community engagement, the institute provides in-depth analysis of the challenges facing the veteran community, captures best practices and serves as a forum to facilitate new partnerships and strong relationships between the individuals and organizations committed to making a difference for veterans and military families. Learn more about IVMF at

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