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43. Blacksburg, Va.
Population: 40,161
Pros: Strong local university; smart, wired community
Con: Off the beaten path

Blacksburg is the home of Virginia Tech, the state's largest university. More and more, it remains home to Virginia Tech graduates, who find it hard to leave the natural beauty of the New River Valley and the intensity of the Tech community, with its strong school spirit and raucous football weekends.

Students are able to stay in Blacksburg because the university offers significant help to fledging businesses. Virginia Tech runs the Corporate Research Center, a high-tech research park which houses 120 companies with 2,000 employees. One campus spin-off keeps the town uniquely well-connected: Since 1993, the Blacksburg Electronic Village has brought Internet services to Blackburg's residents and civic groups. The well-regarded joint city-school effort has served as a model for other civic connectivity efforts. -Elizabeth Bland

Interactive map: Blacksburg, Va.
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Last updated July 02 2008: 11:16 AM ET
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