Provo-Orem ranks #1 in entrepreneurship for small to mid size metros

Here customer Brock Breed shopping among the merchandise from local artists.
Brock Breed shops among the merchandise from local artists in a small business in downtown Provo called Here. The shop is one of many small businesses that contributed to Provo-Orem’s No. 1 ranking on SmartAsset’s list of the most entrepreneurial small to mid-sized metros in the U.S. (Ryan Turner)

The Provo-Orem area ranked No. 1 on SmartAsset’s list of the most entrepreneurial small to mid-sized metros in the U.S.

The study took into account several factors in determining each metro’s rankings, including the percentage of businesses in the area that are considered small businesses. Provo-Orem topped the list at 76.2 percent.

Provo-Orem also topped the charts in the area of “percent of all employees who work in a new business” at 6.8 percent.

SmartAsset spokesperson Asees Singh said the company was curious about entrepreneurship in smaller metro areas because larger metros typically get all the attention regarding new businesses.

“When it comes to American values, entrepreneurship is one of the most revered,” Singh said. “We often hear of the abundance of entrepreneurial opportunities for big cities, so we wanted to cover smaller cities as well.”

Singh said the study took about six weeks to complete and used census data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We really wanted to think about the most realistic and measurable way to approach this topic,” Singh said.

Here displays a wide variety of local artists' products.
Here, a small business in Provo, displays a wide variety of local artists’ products. (Ryan Turner)

Gary Kinross is one of the small business owners in Provo. Big, fluffy baked potatoes smothered in toppings are what hungry costumers enjoy at his hole-in-the-wall shop named Spuds.

“At Provo and Orem there’s a lot of entrepreneurial buzz, so I kinda caught that bug,” Kinross said.

Kinross was a student at BYU studying mechanical engineering, but as graduation neared, he realized he wanted his career to go in a much different direction.

“It unsettled me, the idea of just working a regular job,” Kinross said.

Kinross started his entrepreneurial journey by selling baked potatoes at a farmers market while attending school. A year later, he upgraded to a food truck, which was originally a spray-painted school bus.

Spuds owner Gary Kinross sold potatoes out of a school-bus-turned-foodtruck before opening his own restaurant.
Gary Kinross’s business, Spuds, is one of Provo’s new small businesses. Kinross sold potatoes out of a school-bus-turned-food-truck before opening his own restaurant. (Ryan Turner)

In November 2016, Kinross was able to graduate from food truck to permanent restaurant.

“Life can kind of be like a potato in that it can be plain and boring, or you can have fun with it, give it a purpose and make it your own,” Kinross said.


Another business indicator that contributed to Provo-Orem’s ranking was the percentage of new businesses. Provo ranked substantially higher than the rest of the top-ranked metros at 18.7 percent.

Jed Platt and Scott Campbell are contributors to the “businesses which are new” statistic with their recently opened home and gift shop, Here. The shop sells local artists’ products.

Platt said he decided to be an entrepreneur because he felt something was missing from Downtown Provo.

“This is the shop I couldn’t find,” Platt said. “When I travel, a lot of people are looking for a sense of place, and where is that in Provo? There’s so much talent here, so we need to give them a storefront so people who are visiting can get a sampling of the best of Provo.”

Campbell said he’s seen a lot of positivity in the Provo entrepreneurial community.

“There seems to be a lot of support and encouragement from other entrepreneurs,” Campbell said. “In the community, there’s an open dialogue among entrepreneurs sharing their experience. It’s really cool to see the network that exists.”

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