20 of 100
BACK NEXT
20. Raleigh, N.C.
Population: 316,978
Pros: Thriving tech industry, central location amid major research and business centers
Con: Raleigh's infrastructure is struggling to keeping up with its population growth

North Carolina's capital has a growing tech industry, thanks in part to its close proximity to Research Triangle Park, a business campus that fosters the growth of tech, biotech and pharmaceutical research companies, among others. Within its city limits, Raleigh is experiencing an expansion of two niche industries: digital gaming, and non-woven textile manufacturing.

Raleigh takes entrepreneurship seriously: 20 regional organizations provide guidance and financial support to small-business owners. Entrepreneurial enclaves are even starting to spawn in some of Raleigh's suburbs, such as Garner and Holly Springs. The state has introduced an income tax credit that encourages private investors to fund growing companies and offers matching grants to small firms that receive federal funding through the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. Entrepreneurs also like the fact that Raleigh has no local income tax.

Wake County is the fastest growing area in North Carolina, but Raleigh's infrastructure is having a hard time keeping up with its population growth: the city is feverishly working to expand a number of two-lane roads that now attract highway-level traffic. But one area that welcomes drivers is Raleigh's downtown, which has become more car-friendly as it undergoes a $2.5-billion renaissance. The City of Oaks has a healthy offering of museums, performing arts and golf courses, and is conveniently nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the beaches of the Carolina coast. -Brandi Stewart

Interactive map: Raleigh
Homes for sale Find homes for sale in Raleigh


NEXT: 21. Iowa City

Last updated July 02 2008: 11:16 AM ET
More Galleries
6 designers shaking up fashion These designers are changing the way we dress, accessorize and shop, from custom made-to-fit dresses to smart jewelry that's actually stylish. More
8 must-have travel apps Whether you've got wanderlust or an airline grievance, here are some apps to pack onto your phone. More
Secrets to success from Smalltown USA Utah State professor Michael Glauser cycled 4,000 miles this summer, visiting 100 entrepreneurs across the country. Here's a snapshot of how they grew their businesses. More

Special Offer

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.