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Small businesses have a shot in Buffalo, Yelp says

In a national business climate that clobbers mom and pop companies, Buffalo gives small businesses a fighting chance.

That's according to data from Yelp's latest economic outlook report, which tracks economic opportunity across the country based on the company's information on businesses it reviews. It ranked in the top 10 for neighborhoods with the most improved economic opportunity, as well as with the greatest net business growth within those neighborhoods.

Two Buffalo neighborhoods made the list for the most improved economic opportunity. North Buffalo ranked 10th, while the Elmwood Village came in at No. 45. Neighborhoods in California, Wisconsin and Virginia clinched the first, second and third spots.

Among those most improved neighborhoods, North Buffalo ranked ninth in terms of net business growth during the period from July through September. That category tracks the number of businesses opening and closing in given neighborhoods.

Driving the growth in North Buffalo is nightlife, where Hertel Avenue is flourishing with bars and restaurants. Overall, nightlife is the second most-improved business category, after restaurants and before beauty and spas.

The French Quarter in Charleston, S.C., landed at the top of the list for net business growth, followed by Midtown Detroit and the East Foothills of San Jose, Calif. Growth there has been driven by the automotive, home services and health industries.

Of 50 cities, Buffalo ranked 34th in terms of overall economic opportunity. First on the list was Charlotte, N.C.; followed by Jacksonville, Fla. and Omaha, Neb. Rochester landed at No. 42.

Yelp chose 50 cities that represent a broad spectrum of the American economy, the report said, measuring the largest number of Yelp-listed business in different regions of the country. Each city includes all cities within 33 miles of it.

The study defines economic opportunity as "the chance businesses have to stay open, and for new businesses to thrive." All Yelp-reviewed businesses were analyzed using a model to calculate the likelihood the business would remain open for the next three months, for each month over the last two years. Factors taken into consideration by the model include the business' location, industry category, the number of reviews it received, how often its Yelp page was viewed and other Yelp-related activity.

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