The best cities in the US for family run businesses


Do family and business go together? It depends on who you ask. For some, blood bonds give family-owned companies a competitive edge. For others, they’re a constant source of conflict. Have you seen Succession yet?

Either way, family businesses are a major pillar of the U.S. economy. Overall, just under one-third (30.3%) of U.S. businesses are family-owned. And last year they generated an incredible $7.28trillion.

So to pay homage to this great U.S. tradition, OnDeck gathered data from the U.S. Census Bureau to see which states and cities have the most family-run businesses.

Here’s a look at what OnDeck found out.

The state with the highest percentage of family businesses

South Dakota has the highest percentage of family-owned businesses. Nearly half (43%) of commercial enterprises in this state belong to families. 

It’s no surprise that South Dakota came out on top. The residents are famous for their independent outlook. They like to do things their own way and have a natural (and often well-founded) suspicion of big business and government.

States with the lowest percentage of family businesses

New York is the state with the lowest share of family businesses. Only around 1 in 5 (20.4%) of New York state companies are family-owned. 

Other states with a low percentage of family-run enterprises are also along the Northeastern coast. They are New Jersey (21.9%), Connecticut (22.2%), Maryland (25.7%), and Massachusetts (20.8%),

Georgia and Florida are two southern states where family values don’t extend into the business world. Just a quarter of businesses in both states are owned by family members. 

Family-owned business in the metro areas

More than half (56.2%) of all companies in Lima, Ohio, belong to families.That’s more than anywhere else in the U.S.

So why is Lima such an excellent place for a family business? Local store owner Mike Powell explains: 

“We’re a small, tight-knit city,” says Mike. “Our population is less than 36,000. We benefit from close cooperation. We care about each other in Lima. We support each other. If one of us goes down, it hurts the whole community.”

Highest share of spouse-owned businesses

Could you imagine running a business with your wife, husband, or marital partner? Don’t feel guilty if the answer is no. Because you’re not alone.

Silky Pitterman is part of the New York Midwood Wig Dynasty. It’s a family run business with one exception: no husbands aloud!

“You have to have a certain personality to work with your family,” says Silky. “But I could never work with my husband. I can’t imagine the arguments and fights we’d get into, even over dinner. You don’t need to share everything for a happy marriage.

It seems like the rest of New York agrees. Just 13.2% of New York firms are co-owned by a husband and wife team. Only Connecticut, South Carolina, Delaware, and New Hampshire have fewer spouse-owned businesses than New York.

So are there any states or metro areas where spouse run businesses are the norm, rather than exception? Find out in the tables and maps below.

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