When you think of the word “ambitious” what or who comes to mind? For many it could be a mentor they look up to or that one friend who owns a small business, but rarely do they ever consider the city they live in. Yes, that’s right! The city you live in can be ambitious too!

Our Verizon business experts have identified business savvy cities throughout the U.S. and rated them on their population’s ambitious nature to compile a list of the country’s 15 most ambitious cities.

Read on to learn about the qualities of business owners in America’s most successful risk-taking cities, and check if your home city made the list.


To determine the most ambitious cities in the US, we looked at five different factors in cities with a population of 100,000+ people, and weighted each one to get a total score out of 100% using the following variables:

Mean income weighted at 19%. A higher percentage positively affected its final score. 

Unemployment Rate weighted at 10%. A higher percentage negatively affected that city’s final score. 

People with a bachelor degree or higher (25 and older) weighted at 21%. A higher percentage positively affected that city’s final score.

Number of business applications weighted at 25%. A higher number of applications positively affected the final score. 

Percent of population that started a new business (in 2021) weighted at 35%. A higher percentage positively affected a city’s final score.

A Closer Look at The Top 15 Most Ambitious Cities

1. Burbank, CA

Burbank, California is home to Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Nickelodeon Animation Studio, The Burbank Studios and the largest IKEA in the U.S. In the last year, the county where Burbank is located had 157,459 business applications.

2. Davie, FL

Davie, Florida has a mean income of $102,592 and is home to Broward College, Florida Atlantic University, McFatter Technical Center, and Nova Southeastern University.

3. Pasadena, CA

Pasadena is most famous for its New Year’s Day Rose Parade and college football Rose Bowl Game. The city is also home to the first Trader Joe’s, which opened in 1967. Pasadena’s mean income is $122,053 and 53% of the population holds a Bachelor’s Degree or higher.

4. Sandy Springs, GA

Sandy Springs is just 12 miles North of Atlanta and is the home of UPS and the Mercedes-Benz USA corporate offices. Sandy Springs has a mean income of $136,708 and 66.5% of the population holds a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

5. The Woodlands, TX

Located in the Montgomery County area, The Woodlands is a special-purpose district and census designated place in Texas. Named by Forbes Magazine one of the best places to live in the U.S., this city has attracted notable corporations like Huntsman, Conn’s, Nexeo Solutions, Repsol Energy North America, Strike, and Chevron Phillips Chemical.

6. Torrance, CA

Torrance, California is the birthplace of the American Youth Soccer Organization and is also known for its 1.5 miles of beachfront. This city has a mean income of $121,596 and a 3.1% unemployment rate.

7. Sunnyvale, CA

Sunnyvale is a major city located in Silicon Valley. The city is known as the birthplace of the video game industry and it’s the former location of Atari headquarters.

8. Coral Springs, FL

Coral Springs is home to an award winning school system with many schools in the area having received the “Five Star School Award” from the Florida Department of Education. This city is also conveniently located  just 30 minutes away from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport.

9. Fort Lauderdale, FL

Fort Lauderdale is full of rich natural beauty from its award winning beaches to its waterways. The city has been named by Forbes one of the ‘America’s Millionaire Capitals’ with residents earning a mean income of $104,110.

10. Santa Clara, CA

Santa Clara is located in the center of Silicon Valley and is home to industry leading technology companies such as NEC Electronics, Fujikura, McAfee, and Intel. The population’s mean income is $167,638 and 61.1% of residents hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

11. Miramar, FL

Miramar is a suburban city located 25 minutes away from Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Roughly 61% of its population has started a new business.

12. Pembroke Pines, FL

Some of the most notorious residents of Pembroke are DJ Khaled, NBA star Kenny Anderson, and NFL star Lawrence Taylor. Pembroke is the most populous city in Broward County and the 11th most populous city in Florida.

13. Norwalk, CA

Norwalk, California is located 25 minutes away from LAX airport and has easy access to major California freeways (I-5, I-605, I-105).

14. Berkeley, CA

Berkeley is home to University of California Berkeley (UCB), which was voted #1 on the list of America’s Top Colleges by Forbes in 2021. Roughly 73.1% of this city’s population holds a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

15. Downey, CA

Downey city was home to Rockwell International, an American manufacturing plant involved in aircraft, space industry, defense and commercial electronics. The city is only miles away from Universal Studios, Disneyland, and the Los Angeles airport and 43% of its population has started a new business.

Fast Facts

  • Amongst the top cities, the average rate of entrepreneurship is 38%, which increased 2% from last year’s rate of entrepreneurship (36%). 
  • Last year’s average income of $80,092.18 increased by 11% this year to $89,231.53.
  • The average of the population that holds a Bachelor’s or higher is 34.73%. This number increased 41% from last year (24.5%).

The Most Ambitious City in Each State*

GeorgiaSandy Springs
TexasThe Woodlands
ColoradoHighlands Ranch
North CarolinaCary
MichiganAnn Arbor
OklahomaBroken Arrow
New MexicoLas Cruces
KansasOverland Park
South CarolinaCharleston
New YorkNew York
ArkansasLittle Rock
New JerseyJersey City
District of ColumbiaWashington
UtahSalt Lake City
North DakotaFargo
New HampshireManchester
South DakotaSioux Falls
IowaCedar Rapids
Rhode IslandProvidence

*Delaware, Maine, West Virginia, and Wyoming are not included in our ranking.


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