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
Rebirth of America's dead factories Defunct factories around the country are in high demand as U.S. production once again revs up. More
7 hot businesses to start now It's hard to predict what businesses will take off, but these startup ideas have been drawing tons of interest from entrepreneurs and their customers on Thumbtack.com. More
How will a minimum wage hike hit businesses? Thirteen states increased the minimum wage on Jan. 1, and President Obama supports raising the federal rate to $10.10. 4 small business owners weigh in on how an increase would affect them. More

Special Offer
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.