What do Crestview, Fort Walton Beach and Destin have in common?

What do Crestview, Fort Walton Beach and Destin have in common?

According to two different websites, they’re great places to build a business and retire.

In an article on MoneyRates.com, the three cities were tied for the No. 5 spot as one of the best cities for young entrepreneurs.

The site looked at criteria such as population growth, young adult affluence, educational attainment and tax environment to rate U.S. cities. The three local cities are named among Austin and Round Rock, Texas, The Villages and Orlando.

While Destin often tops lists geared toward tourism, Shane Moody, CEO/President, of Destin Area Chamber of Commerce said it’s nice to be recognized as not just a place to visit, but a place to live.

“Our motto is Destin is the best place to live, work and play,” he said. “(Young entrepreneurs) are the kind of people you want in the area. They’re economic drivers and job creators.”

In Crestview, the community rallies behind new businesses, said Valerie Lott, President/CEO of Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce. The majority of the businesses in the chamber are small businesses with just a handful of employees.

“It’s easier to open a business because the demand is here ... and we don’t have a lot of those big box stores,” she said. “Everybody wants those businesses to succeed.”

Ted Corcoran, President/CEO of Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, credits some of the success in Fort Walton Beach to VentureHive, which opened last year to groom veteran entrepreneurs. The city works to “cultivate and groom businesses,” he said.

And after they open for business, they can retire happily. On another site, ValuePenguin, the three cities shared the No. 1 spot out of 200 for best cities to retire.

The site compared 24 different data points such as mean retirement income, property taxes, number of hospitals, instances of crime and number of services for disabled individuals. Other cities in the top 10 include Jacksonville, Tampa, Pensacola and Miami.

Corcoran said both lists further explain Fort Walton Beach’s new tagline “Happiest City in Florida.”

“A lot of people choose to move here to retire,” he said. “The weather and cost of living is certainly relevant ... but it’s also a happy place — a fun place with a small town feel.”

Richard Barrington, senior financial analyst for MoneyRates.com said it’s no coincidence that the three cities share the titles. The Census Bureau groups Crestview, Destin and Fort Walton Beach as a population center and together and the area has had double digit growth in recent years, he said.

“(Retirees) are consumers of goods and services. It’s a great opportunity for entrepreneurs,” he said.