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4. Marina del Rey, Calif.
Population: 8,891
Pro: Business-friendly tax structure
Con: Competition for commercial space

The beaches in Marina del Rey are spectacular, and business opportunities abound. But the city has one big barrier to growth: It's surrounded on all sides by the city of Los Angeles, and can only grow upwards and into the ocean. Consequently, commercial vacancies are declining in Marina del Rey, causing some startups to look elsewhere for room.

Despite the space constraints, L.A. County does offer advantages to businesses in the right industries. There's a tremendously vibrant retail and tourism sector - the area is home to the highest density of restaurant seating in one square mile outside of Manhattan. The major employers in the area are hotels, airlines, and the L.A. Department of Beaches. The county offers a handful of business incentives, from tax credits for firms that hire long-term welfare recipients to rebate programs to promote energy conservation. Located four miles north of LAX, Marina Del Rey tends to be more affordable than many of its nearby towns, such as Santa Monica.

Companies that don't need much room to wiggle (such as new media outlets or neighborhood service shops) can take advantage of a highly educated workforce - more than half of the population over 25 has at least an associate's degree. With the unemployment rate in L.A. County hovering around 5%, there's a good pool of skilled workers waiting to be hired. -Kelsey Abbott and Mina Kimes

Interactive map: Marina del Rey, Calif.
Homes for sale Find homes for sale in Marina del Rey, Calif.


NEXT: 5. Bethesda, Md.

Last updated July 02 2008: 11:16 AM ET
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