77 of 100
BACK NEXT
77. Spokane, Wa.
Population: 202,618
Pros: Great community involvement, outdoorsy environment
Cons: Business occupation tax, gray skies

Though it's considered a mid-sized city, Spokane's approach to business has a very small-town feel. Top politicians make the time to attend opening ceremonies for new businesses. The state's first distillery opened in Spokane last year, and has received so much local support that it's begun expanding two years earlier than planned. The Home-Based Business Connection support group ensures that even entrepreneurs working out of their basements and garages receive mentoring. Washington's lack of corporate or personal income taxes helps ease the burden of paying a business occupation tax. Spokane is the only city in the state that does not charge an additional local business occupation tax.

The rapid growth of Spokane's tech sectors is largely supported by the state-funded Spokane Intercollegiate Research & Technology Institute (Sirti), which operates a mixed-use business campus featuring state-of-the-art labs, light manufacturing space and conventional office spaces. Entrepreneurs can source capital from local angel networks and early-stage venture-capital investment firms.

The outdoorsy type can find much to do in and around Spokane, which has a river running though the middle of the city that tumbles over into a series of waterfalls right in the downtown area. Hiking and biking along the river and in the nearby mountains are popular activities, as is an annual 12K race that attracts athletes to Spokane each spring. If the gray winter skies are getting you down, try heading up to one of the area's seven ski resorts. -Brandi Stewart

Interactive map: Spokane, Wash.
Homes for sale Find homes for sale in Spokane, Wash.


NEXT: 78. San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Last updated July 02 2008: 11:16 AM ET
More Galleries
6 designers shaking up fashion These designers are changing the way we dress, accessorize and shop, from custom made-to-fit dresses to smart jewelry that's actually stylish. More
8 must-have travel apps Whether you've got wanderlust or an airline grievance, here are some apps to pack onto your phone. More
Secrets to success from Smalltown USA Utah State professor Michael Glauser cycled 4,000 miles this summer, visiting 100 entrepreneurs across the country. Here's a snapshot of how they grew their businesses. 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 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.