By Christopher Clough

Door County Advocate

If you own a small business on the Peninsula, you’re in a good place in Wisconsin, a national study says.

The study by New York-based financial technology and advice company SmartAsset ranked Door County as the third-best of the state’s 72 counties to own a small business in 2022, based on the number of small businesses operating in each county, how much income they generate and what they pay in taxes. Nationally, the county came in at No. 1,172, one of nine in Wisconsin to rank in the top 2,000.

The study considered five factors:

  • Small Business Returns, which is the percentage of people in a county with small business income as defined by the Internal Revenue Service, according to their tax returns. The IRS considers small businesses as those who file Form 1040 or 1040-SR, Schedules C, E, F or Form 2106, as well as businesses with assets of less than $10 million;
  • The percentage of income in each county generated by small businesses, as reported in tax returns;
  • The potential income tax burden, which gave every county in Wisconsin the same number;
  • The change over the past five years of small business tax returns;
  • And the five-year change in small business income.

Door County ranked second in the state in small business returns with 26.22%, trailing only Vilas County at 27.36%, and sixth for small business income with 11.31%. The county also ranked ninth in the five-year change in small business returns with a score of 45.6 and 42nd in five-year income change with a 7.37. The five-year-change scores were indexed by SmartAsset on a scale with the top score being 100.

SmartAsset then created an index using the five factors to come up with a final score for each county. The Door’s final score of 46.5 trailed the 48.41 given to Pepin County in western Wisconsin and the 48.18 tallied by Clark County in central Wisconsin. The only other county in the eastern part of the state to make the Top 10 was Ozaukee, which placed fifth.

In previous SmartAsset small business studies, Door County placed second in 2020 behind Vilas County and fifth in 2019. Those surveys used the first three factors given, not taking into account the two five-year factors.

Korey Mallien, director of marketing and communications for Door County Economic Development Corp., said the survey confirms the organization’s belief in the opportunities to run or start a small business on the Peninsula. He noted that DCEDC has several ways it fosters small business growth, including its annual Entrepreneurial Training Program in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Mallien also pointed out a U.S. Census Bureau report issued in September that said the midwestern U.S. saw a 3.7% increase in small business startups over the previous eight quarters, higher than any other region in the country.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, and that’s certainly true of Door County,” Mallien said. “There are so many small businesses up and down the Peninsula. The survey reflects that Door County is a great place to start a small business.”

For more on the studies, including interactive maps and an explanation of the methodology, visit