The United States is home to numerous big businesses that are household names, but even more small businesses — often doing quiet, steady work that doesn’t get the same kind of recognition. Though the pandemic wreaked havoc with the economy, not all businesses suffered, and others found ways to weather the economic losses of the past year-plus.
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Across the country, in every region, you’ll find small business districts that are making it work. Whether they cater to the tech industry, tourism or diverse kinds of industries, these business districts are integral parts of their communities. Here are 10 thriving business districts spread across the U.S.
Last updated: June 15, 2021
Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona
Old Town Scottsdale is broken into nine walkable neighborhoods or districts, including several shopping districts, an arts district, a historic district and so much more. There, according to the town’s website, you’ll find “a unique collection of shops, restaurants, art galleries and nightclubs, as well as contemporary public art installations, world-class museums and historic sites from the late 1880s.”
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Downtown Burlington, Vermont
The town of Burlington, Vermont offers a quaint setting alongside gorgeous Lake Champlain. Here you can find restaurants and a variety of shopping alongside “a thriving arts scene, museums and educational opportunities,” according to the website. Burlington is also home to three colleges and a university, and attracts outdoor enthusiasts in the warmer months. Visually it’s quaint, with “fountains, a brick-paved pedestrian mall and historic buildings” and Church Street Marketplace, which includes specialty shops and cultural venues. Visitors can find outdoor cafes, street vendors and many forms of entertainment.
Old Town Spring, Texas
Founded in the 1800s, this historic area of Spring, Texas experienced a variety of economic ups and downs throughout the 20th century, including a thriving railroad and opera house in the early ’20s. After the railroad relocated, the area all but shuttered through the Great Depression until the late 1960s, when merchants began to return. Now the popular Texas Crawfish and Music Festival attracts folks from all over Texas. It’s home to hundreds of businesses of all kinds.
Austin Innovation District
Austin’s Innovation District in Central Texas is a unique area where “researchers and higher education institutions are making connections and tapping into the region’s ecosystem of entrepreneurs, incubators and investors,” according to the Austin Downtown Alliance.
Austin is one of the most affordable U.S. cities in which to operate a bio-manufacturing facility, as well as being a top-ranked tech city and a top-three emerging life sciences cluster in the U.S., according to the site.
North Quarter District, Orlando, Florida
Orlando has many small thriving main street business districts, but the North Quarter District, which begins at the northern edge of downtown Orlando and extends to the Ivanhoe Village Main Street District, offers “the best of urban access and village vibe, as well as immediate access to I-4,” according to their website. The North Quarter District is home to restaurants, professional office towers, apartment buildings, small businesses and single-family homes that are used for both residences and small business headquarters. The district is also “the gateway” to the Central Business District along the Orlando Urban Trail and Colonial Drive Overpass.
Pearl Street Mall, Boulder, Colorado
The Pearl Street mall is a small business sector in the Downtown Boulder Historic District. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980 because it includes the city’s oldest commercial section. Since 1976, Pearl Street has been closed to all vehicle traffic, and includes an open-air pedestrian mall. The mall won a national award for urban environmental design in 1980. “Craft breweries, cafes, restaurants, boutique design and clothing stores, as well as outdoor stores and other enticing businesses line the brick pathways in this college town,” according to Colorado.com.
Fairbourne Station, West Valley City, Utah
A brand-new business park, Fairbourne Station sits on an 8.5 acre development, offering a 9-story class A office tower with 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains and a solar array, 7-level parking structure and 80,000 square feet of business office space.
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High Point, North Carolina
High Point, North Carolina has become known as one of the “furniture capitals of the world,” according to the city website, because of its thriving furniture manufacturing sector. The city, which is also home to three universities in High Point University, South University and Laurel University, makes an effort to connect small business owners with all the resources they need to thrive. The city is also home to some big businesses, including Bank of America, Thomas Built Buses and Ralph Lauren.
Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Reno has a thriving business scene built on its numerous casinos. Reno attracts gambling tourists from neighboring states like California, and is home to the University of Nevada at Reno, the Peppermill Hotel Casino, International Game Technology, Integrity Staffing Solutions and the Silver Legacy Resort Casino. TopManagementDegrees.Net ranks Nevada as third for business tax climate and second for business costs.
Asheville, North Carolina
The historic city of Asheville is rich in business and, according to Cheapism, “one of the most celebrated arts communities in the country.” Not only will you find amazing restaurants, pubs, galleries, antique shops and spas in this beautiful Appalachian town, you can walk the Urban Trail, divided into five historical eras going back to 1880. Businesses here cater to the many visitors who come to this destination town.
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