San Antonio ranked in top 20 cities for veteran entrepreneurs

While San Antonio bears the nickname “Military City USA,” a recent study claims that veterans pursuing a business career might be better off in other Texan metro areas.

The PenFed Foundation, a national nonprofit founded by PenFed Credit Union, released the findings of its annual study on the top U.S. cities for veteran entrepreneurs. The results might ruffle some feathers here in the Alamo City.

Here are the top five metro areas for veterans to start a business:

  1. Raleigh, N.C.
  2. Austin-Round Rock
  3. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wisconsin
  4. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington
  5. Madison, Wisconsin

You might be thinking, “Austin over San Antonio?” The answer, according to the PenFed Foundation, is yes — and by a significant margin. Of the top 20 cities for veteran entrepreneurs, San Antonio finds itself ranked No. 19.

The study analyzed 390 metropolitan statistical areas based on four main categories: livability, economic growth, support for veterans and ability to start a business. It was conducted by the PenFed Foundation Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program, which supports veteran-owned startups and businesses, in partnership with Edelman Intelligence.

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The San Antonio-New Braunfels metro area rose four spots since the 2022 rankings, but it’s still ranked fourth among metro areas in Texas, behind Austin-Round Rock, Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land (No. 14) and McAllen-Edinburg-Mission (No.15).

“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,” PenFed Foundation President Andrea McCarren said in a written statement.

It’s the organization’s fourth year highlighting the cities that are making strides to support veteran businesses. This year’s edition put less emphasis on pandemic-related factors and more weight on the cost of living and other financial issues.

San Antonio’s strongest category was “ability to start a business,” which evaluates income taxes, the value of venture capital investment, the number of veteran entrepreneurs, the prevalence of incubators, labor force demographics and other metrics.

While it falls short of a top 10 spot, San Antonio’s performance in the rankings improved since last year. The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro area was identified as one of the “largest fallers” in this year’s ratings, sinking 20 spots since 2022.

San Antonio is home to one of the largest concentrations of military bases in the United States. Bexar County is home to an estimated 80,000 active-duty military personnel and about 160,000 military veterans, according to a study released last year. 

Since 2018, the PenFed Foundation reports having accelerated more than 70 veteran-owned startups and advised more than 1,000 veteran-owned small businesses. To view its full report, visit the PenFed Foundation’s website.

“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 Foundation CEO James Schenck in a written statement. 

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