FREMONT -- City officials for years have been promoting Fremont as an active, thriving part of Silicon Valley and it appears that entrepreneurs are taking notice.

That would explain why a recent study ranked Fremont as the nation's top city, per capita, for having the most tech startup businesses.

The city's rate of startups, in fact, is twice as high as that of San Jose, which placed second in the report completed by SizeUp.com, a San Francisco-based website that provides business data for small and mid-sized companies.

Fremont officials say the top ranking is not an accident, as they have made luring high-tech entrepreneurs -- especially those of biotech and cleantech companies -- a top priority.

"We're really excited to be recognized in this way," said Christina Briggs, Fremont's economic development manager. "It validated our strategy in attracting emerging technology companies."

In 2009, Fremont began offering five-year tax exemptions to new or existing cleantech companies. Last year, the city slightly changed its policy to also include biotech companies and began giving two-year exemptions to existing businesses, while still providing a five-year exemption to new cleantech and biotech startups, Briggs said.

City officials said the strategy's goal is to create a community of like-minded tech firms so that entrepreneurs start to perceive Fremont in a more business-friendly light.


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As a result, more than 30 cleantech companies, such as Soraa and Intematix, have opened their doors for business in Fremont, Briggs said.

"Innovation is going to drive tomorrow's economy," she said. "By planting that seed now, Fremont down the road will become fertile ground and develop a reputation for being a good home for those kinds of companies."

SizeUp.com completed its survey by studying startups that are less than five years old, in the fields of computers, software, medical devices and electronics, and have set up shop in the nation's 100 most populous cities.

Besides Fremont and San Jose, two other California cities made the top 10: Anaheim was ranked seventh and Santa Ana finished 10th.

Cindy Bonior, president and CEO of the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, said she was somewhat surprised by the city's top ranking because of its size. Fremont, whose population is about 217,000, is the Bay Area's fourth-largest city.

"But the great entrepreneurial spirit in our community, that doesn't surprise me," Bonior said. "There are a lot of people in this business community who are really smart and have fortitude and are willing to strike out on their own."

Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.

Top 10 cities with most tech startups

(Per Capita)

1. Fremont
2. San Jose
3. Irving, Texas
4. Chandler, Ariz.
5. Austin, Texas
6. Paradise, (Clark County), Nev.
7. Anaheim
8. Mesa, Ariz.
9. Seattle, Wash.
10. Santa Ana

Source: SizeUp.com