PenFed Foundation Study Reveals Top U.S. Cities for Veteran Entrepreneurs in 2023


Raleigh, Austin and Milwaukee take the top spots making significant progress over last year.

TYSONS, Va., Oct. 23, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — 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 education, preparation, and network access, conducted the study in partnership with Edelman Intelligence.

PenFed Foundation Study Reveals Top U.S. Cities for Veteran Entrepreneurs in 2023

According to the 2023 study, Raleigh, Austin and Milwaukee made significant improvements to become 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 2022 study, include Fayetteville, Arkansas (+37), Milwaukee, Wisconsin (+19), Raleigh, North Carolina (+8), and Madison, Wisconsin (+8). The study analyzed four main categories for each city, which include livability, economic growth, support for veterans, and ability to start a business. This year’s edition put less emphasis on factors related to COVID and increased emphasis on livability and economic factors. 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 the PenFed Foundation is proud to commission this study for the fourth year in a row highlighting the cities that are making strides to support veteran businesses,” said PenFed Foundation President Andrea McCarren. “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.”

“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 core field of membership since 1935,” said PenFed Credit Union President/CEO and PenFed Foundation CEO James Schenck.

The top 20 cities for veteran entrepreneurs with (changes since the 2022 report) include:

  1. Raleigh (+8)
  2. AustinRound Rock (+4)
  3. MilwaukeeWaukeshaWest Allis (+19)
  4. SeattleTacomaBellevue (-1)
  5. Madison (+8)
  6. ClevelandElyria (+2)
  7. Rapid City (+2)
  8. FayettevilleSpringdaleRogers (+37)
  9. Kansas City (+5)
  10. New YorkNewarkJersey City (-8)
  11. WashingtonArlingtonAlexandria (-10)
  12. Cincinnati (+6)
  13. TampaSt. PetersburgClearwater (-1)
  14. HoustonThe WoodlandsSugar Land (-9)
  15. McAllenEdinburgMission (+5)
  16. Sioux Falls (-9)
  17. AtlantaSandy Springs – Roswell (+5)
  18. Columbus (-1)
  19. San AntonioNew Braunfels (+4)
  20. ChicagoNapervilleElgin (-4)

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.

Since 2018, the PenFed Foundation VEIP has accelerated more than 70 veteran-owned startups and advised over 1,000 veteran-owned small businesses.

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

About PenFed Foundation

Founded in 2001, The PenFed Foundation is a national nonprofit organization that supports veterans in their transition from service to success. Affiliated with PenFed Credit Union, the Foundation has provided more than $55 million in financial support to veterans, active-duty service members and military families. The credit union funds the Foundation’s personnel and most operational costs, allowing 99% of incoming donations to go directly to our programs. To learn more, please visit

PenFed Credit Union is federally insured by NCUA.


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