41 of 100
41. Asheville, N.C.
Population: 69,447
Pros: Emerging tech industries, support for artists, scenic mountain town
Con: Oversaturated industries

It's no secret that Asheville, nestled in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains, is a site to see - so many entrepreneurs have tried to profit off of the city's tourism and hospitality industries that these sectors are now almost oversaturated.

What's less well known is that Asheville is actively recruiting to fill new markets, especially the tech industry. Home of the National Climatic Center, Asheville encourages its business community to leverage and support the weather facility. The city has seen a steady increase in the number of local firms innovating in the areas of communications, software, digital media, fiber optics and tech commercialization. The Blue Ridge Entrepreneurial Council offers education and networking; it also co-sponsors an annual venture-capital conference that has helped new regional companies raise more than $6 million over the past year. The Technology Commercialization Center managed by the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College is dedicated to helping tech startups bring their innovations to market.

Manufacturing and tech-based businesses can take advantage of state tax credits for job creation and research and development. New and expanding companies that invest a minimum of $1.5 million in construction, machinery and equipment in Asheville can apply for a local Economic Development Incentive grant. Asheville also has a thriving creative community. Local organizations such as HandMade in America and Asheville Hub help area artists market their creations.

Asheville's architecture is an eye-catching mix of Art Deco, Beaux Arts and Neoclassical styles. For outdoor enthusiasts, the area offers scenic and challenging hiking and mountain biking trails and whitewater rafting on one of three regional rivers. Add in a diverse local music scene and premier golf courses and you've got a city that offers a little something for everyone in the way of entertainment. -Brandi Stewart

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NEXT: 42. Ann Arbor

Last updated July 02 2008: 11:16 AM ET
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