It's no secret that the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area has a lot of gray matter, with three major universities - Duke, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State - and the famed Research Triangle Park. In 1994 all that brainpower, plus the area's idyllic setting, job opportunities and great weather, made it our Best Place.
Today it remains a job mecca, and Triangle Park alone is home to 40,000 employees at 130 companies with a diverse group of employers in high-tech, life sciences and academe. The metro area added nearly 30,000 jobs in 2006, and Black Enterprise magazine named Raleigh/Durham the third-best area in the U.S. for African Americans in 2007. Rapid growth - before 1994 and since - has increased traffic and sprawl. Several school districts have switched to year-round schedules to help ease overcrowding, despite loud objections from parents.
Biggest development since 1994: Public and private investments worth a combined $1.8 billion will dramatically reshape Raleigh's downtown core. Construction began earlier this year.