Suffolk County consists of a group of tremendously diverse towns and villages: it's home to the swank beachside properties of East Hampton, but also to the quaint independently owned boutiques and eateries of Northport, where visitors can dock their boat near one end of Main Street and hop out for a day of shopping.
A village within the town of Huntington, Northport bustles with an independent-retail scene, made all the more vibrant by the waterfront and a county with a high-earning consumer base. Entrepreneurs looking to launch in other fields will find advantages as well. Once a defense-industry hub, the region has diversified over the years. With resources and the talent pool stemming from nearby research facilities (including Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory), new sectors, such as biotech and electronics, are gaining importance.
The county's economic development department offers financial assistance specific to small-business owners, including a revolving loan fund and reduced interest rates for businesses with fewer than 100 employees; its Inventors & Entrepreneurs Club facilitates networking events and encourages the use of local brain power. Like most beach towns, Northport has expensive real estate, but residents pay reduced property taxes because of a power plant just across village borders. The school system is top-notch, and the Big Apple's vast resources are an hour's train ride away. -Kelsey Abbott