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Back from the dead

The decline of major American industries such as steel, textiles, and tobacco threatened to turn these six towns into economic wastelands. Instead, local officials sought out new industries, reinventing their towns as meccas for biotech, software development, and telecoms.

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Bethlehem, Pa.
Bethlehem, Pa.
This former steel city is remodeling itself into a high-tech player. Manufacturing giant Bethlehem Steel, once one of the largest steel producers in the U.S., employed as many as 167,000 people in its heyday. By the mid-`80s that number had plummeted to 35,000 as the cost of doing business and competition from foreign producers took their toll. The company shut down its Bethlehem plant in 1995 and closed for good in 2003.

The town has since transitioned to a tech-based economy, nurtured by the presence of major hospitals and colleges. The state aggressively courts new businesses via programs like Ben Franklin Technology Partners, which helps start-ups find funding and qualified staff. Meanwhile, the old Bethlehem Steel property is being converted into a luxury entertainment complex that will feature shopping, dining, a hotel and casino.


NEXT: Worcester, Mass.
Last updated March 26 2008: 3:40 PM ET