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Salem deemed one of the best places in Virginia to start a business

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SALEM (WSLS 10) - The city of Salem is gaining statewide recognition for its entrepreneurial spirit.

Nerdwallet.com named Salem one of the best places in Virginia to start a business. The consumer finance website examined 112 places in Virginia with a population greater than 5,000 before issuing the list, on which Salem came in number 20.

With a population of nearly 25,000, the city's Economic Development Department said there are more than 2,000 businesses and, that number is growing.

"Salem is a very loyal community," said Mill Mountain Coffee Manager Devan Ritchie. "And, the regulars, I mean, they're in here five or seven days a week."

Ritchie said it's not just the caffeine that has customers coming back for another cup.

"I would say it has to do with the crew that I have working here," commented Ritchie. "They're all ‘Salemites'. So, they come in to see friends and family."

With coffee shops, local colleges, a weekend farmers market and storefronts stretching across a mile and a half strip through downtown, Salem is a one stop shop for many. Realtors from Barker Realty said it all adds up to attract new businesses like a new frozen yogurt shop, which doors officially opened this week.

"It's actually a slow and steady growth," said realtor Egon Hoffman. "It's not a boom. It's a steady growth, good place to do business, very welcoming and low unemployment rate."

Sitting at 4.4 percent, Salem's unemployment rate is lower than the state and national average. And city leaders said they are looking to draw more businesses to the area by sprucing up downtown.

"Putting benches, creating little spaces where people can sit and reflect, having some outdoor dining and having more business signage," said Councilwoman Jane Johnson, are all plans they city is looking to implement.

"People really enjoy spending an hour or five minutes here," said Ritchie. "It's the start to every body's day or maybe the end."

"Nerd Wallet found that Tyson's Corner ranks number one on their list for the best cities to start up a business within Virginia. For the full list of cities: https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/small-business/best-places-start-business-virginia-2015/