Luxury at home: No. 3, Buford, Ga.
Fast growth. A lake. (But a long drive to the airport.)
(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Terri Jondahl, 48, does not take vacations. As the owner of CAB - a manufacturer and distributor of metal components that drive wind and water turbines - she logs about 200,000 miles a year to meet clients and visit overseas operations. So when Jondahl wants to relax, she heads home to Buford, Ga.
"Once I found my house on Lake Lanier three years ago," she says, "I knew I was going to be here forever."
Last September, Jondahl decided to make Buford her corporate base as well. She moved CAB from nearby Oakwood, Ga., to an office on the 38,000-acre lake.
"My employees were stoked," says Jondahl.
With its charming downtown and great fishing, Buford has drawn residents who want to enjoy Atlanta, 30 minutes away, without its headaches. Buford has also become a startup hot spot, particularly since the Mall of Georgia opened in 1999. Some 30 new businesses (from ad agencies to restaurants) launch every month in the 16-square-mile town. Buford collects a 6% sales tax and a 2.5% property tax (compared with 8% and 4.1% in Atlanta); those in the highest income tax bracket pay the 6% state rate. That beats the 9% rate in Jondahl's native California - although it doesn't compare with 0% in Texas and New Hampshire. Driving to the airport is a hassle, she admits, but takes just 45 minutes if you avoid rush hour.
CAB's creekside office will boast hiking trails and picnic tables. Soon Jondahl will be able to host clients at Emerald Pointe, a new four-star resort with a golf course.
Buford's median home price is $195,493 (compared with $250,913 in Atlanta), so dream homes are within reach. Jondahl's pad boasts an indoor salt-water pool - a luxury to some, but a necessity for an entrepreneur who thinks staying home is the best break of all.
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