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The Best Places to Be an Accountant 2012

From our 2012 Regional Leaders list, we rank the best parts of the country to operate an accounting firm

The Regions The Regions

In our annual Regional Leaders report, we rank the top firms in these economic ecosystems, but not the ecosystems themselves—that’s what this slide show is for. Here, ranked by the overall growth of their top firms in 2011, are the best regions in which to run an accounting firm. (For our Regional Leaders and Top 100 Firms report, visit our Rankings section -- see tab above.)

1. The Gulf Coast 1. The Gulf Coast Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi

Growth: 19.22%

Top Firm: Carr, Riggs & Ingram (Enterprise, Ala.; $100.31 in 2011 revenue)

Fastest-Growing Firm: Warren Averett (Birmingham, Ala.; grew 127.9%)

The Gulf Coast's double-digit growth is largely down to the three-way merger of midsized firms that created the new Warren Averett, as well as M&A at the region's leader, CRI, but all of our firms here grew their revenues.

2. The Southeast 2. The Southeast Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee

Growth:18.37%

Top Firm: Dixon Hughes Goodman (Charlotte, N.C.; $295 million in 2011 revenue)

Fastest-Growing Firm: DHG (grew 52.85%)

The Southeast's high level of growth is also due, in part, to some major mergers, led by the creation of Dixon Hughes Goodman from Dixon Hughes and Goodman & Co.

3. The Mid-Atlantic Region 3. The Mid-Atlantic Region New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania

Growth: 6.55%

Top Firm: Marcum (New York City; $274.2 million in 2011 revenue)

Fastest-Growing Firm: Reinsel Kuntz Lesher (Lancaster, Pa., grew 34.86%)

Home to a significant portion of our Top 100 Firms, the Mid-Atlantic Region also claims a large share of accounting revenue -- and most of the firms here display strong, consistent growth.

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4. The Great Lakes 4. The Great Lakes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin

Growth: 6.04%

Top Firm: Plante Moran (Southfield, Mich.; $304.35 million in 2011 revenue)

Fastest-Growing Firm: Wipfli (Milwaukee; grew 24.12%)

After 2010's contraction, firms in the Rust Belt managed healthy growth in 2011, helped no doubt by the resurgence in the car industry.

5. New England 5. New England Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont

Growth: 5.2%

Top Firm: Blum, Shapiro & Co. (West Hartford, Conn.; $47.27 million in 2011 revenue)

Fastest-Growing Firm: Abrams Little-Gill Loberfeld (Chestnut Hill, Mass.; grew 16.55%)

Two of New England's leading firms were acquired in 2011, but the region still managed to post much stronger growth than last year.

6. The Capital Region 6. The Capital Region Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia

Growth: 4.97%

Top Firm: Reznick Group (Bethesda, Md.; $202.5 million in 2011 revenue)

Fastest-Growing Firm: Aronson (Rockville, Md.; grew 10.14%)

Firms within reach of Washington, D.C., improved on their 2010 growth in 2011, buoyed by federal spending, and the beginnings of the economic recovery.

7. The West 7. The West California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington

Growth: 4.61%

Top Firm: Moss Adams (Seattle; $323 million in 2011 revenue)

Fastest-Growing Firm: Armanino McKenna (San Ramon, Calif.; grew 17.84%)

Mergers helped drive growth all up and down the West Coast, from LarsonAllen's many acquisitions in the Pacific Northwest (before its combination with Clifton Gunderson), to a host of inter-firm tie-ups in California.

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8. The Mountain Region 8. The Mountain Region Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming

Growth: 2.27% 2.27%

Top Firm: Ehhardt Keefe Steiner & Hottman (Denver; $58.47 million in 2011 revenue)

Fastest-Growing Firm: Squire & Co. (Orem, Utah; grew 11.93%)

Firms in the Mountain states bounced back from a disappointing performance in 2010 to show solid, if not spectacular, growth in 2011.

9. The Southwest 9. The Southwest Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas

Growth: 1.96%

Top Firm: Weaver (Fort Worth, Texas; $66.4 million in 2011 revenue)

Fastest-Growing Firm: Whitley Penn (Fort Worth; grew 16.82%)

One of the weaker performers among the regions, the Southwest nonetheless improved on its performance from 2010, and looked forward to further growth boosted by the oil, gas and alternative energy sectors, among others.

10. The Midwest 10. The Midwest Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota

Growth: 1.11%

Top Firm: BKD (Springfield, Mo.; $391.2 million in 2011 revenue)

Fastest-Growing Firm: RubinBrown (St. Louis; grew 13.73%)

The Midwest lagged the rest of the regions, and even managed to grow less in 2011 than it did in 2011. Growth rates at most firms were fairly meager -- St. Louis' RubinBrown broke the trend, but some of that is no doubt due to its aggressive expansion in Colorado.



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