What does it mean for a city to be open for business?

It means a number of things: to start with, it means a city is easy to operate in, with low barriers to setting up and running business; and it has a transparent system of governance with a low risk of corruption. It also has a strong digital infrastructure; it’s a hub for skills and talent, and has a healthy “innovation ecosystem”. It has a good quality of life and a dynamic cultural environment. Finally, an open for business city is globally connected, a welcoming place for people from all types of backgrounds, including LGBT+ people.

There are dozens of reports, data, indices and rankings that compare these various attributes of cities around the world. Open For Business has analysed many of them in our 2018 report on cities, to show that LGBT+ inclusive cities are more competitive, more productive, and ultimately more prosperous.

So why does the world need another ranking? Although there is a wealth of data on the many different perspectives on city performance, this has never before been pulled together to provide a consolidated view of how open for business a city is. To do this, we synthesize this data into the Open For Business City Ratings. They are intended to present a guide to which cities are open, progressive and competitive – and which are not. And it aims to be a useful tool for the following groups of people. For policymakers seeking to boost the economic performance of their city, the ratings can help them to benchmark their performance against competing cities.

For businesses considering possible new locations for offices or operations, the ratings can help evaluate opportunities and risks presented by different cities. For high-skilled individuals thinking about relocating to another city, the ratings can help them to think about what they are looking for and how they might fit in. The Open For Business City Ratings applies a tiered system similar to that used by credit ratings agencies: it ranges from cities that are “fully open for business” (tiers AAA to A) through cities that are “partially open for business” (tiers BBB to C) and finally those cities whose lack of openness presents political, social or personal risks (tiers DDD to E). The ratings were created by combining 23 different metrics to provide the basis for the assessment of cities.

Open For Business City Ratings

The ratings for 121 cities around the world are presented below. Some of these cities are open for business and are more likely to remain and become globally competitive – and some are not. New York City is the highest scoring city in our model.


How cities are rated

The Open For Business City Ratings evaluate cities on 23 individual indicators across four main pillars. An overview of the model is below. You can read more about the individual indicators on pages 46 &47 of our 2018 report (link above). You can read about the in-depth methodology on pages 94 & 95.


Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City

“We’re proud that New York achieved a AAA rating and is the highest scoring city in the Open For Business City Ratings, a reflection of the fact that we are indeed, fully and energetically “open for business.” As the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ rights movement and the host city for World Pride 2019, we stand with this report’s conclusion that cities that embrace their LGBTQ residents are the world’s most competitive – they are more innovative, entrepreneurial and filled with talent.”