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81. Charleston, S.C.
Population: 103,756
Pro: Lively startup climate
Con: Long drive from large metro areas

A travel destination that enjoys top billing from taste-makers, Charleston attracts a well-educated and wealthy crowd from all over the country. As a result, entrepreneurs catering to them - such as those in financial planning, interior decorating, and catering - thrive.

But the city has also been seeking to grow in industries such as aerospace, biosciences, and digital media. Business advisory programs such as ThinkTEC facilitate networking for IT-based firms network. FastTracSC assists small businesses through several phases of their growth, from drawing up a business plan to securing real estate and hiring; its "new ideas" competition awards $100 to $5,000 to the best startup concepts. In addition, the Tate Center for Entrepreneurship, operating out of the College of Charleston, runs an incubator to nurture new businesses with the South Carolina Research Authority. That's a lot of resources for a mid-sized city - and the numbers show it. New businesses grew from 15,442 in 2004 to 16,092 in 2005, an increase of 4.2%, according to census figures.

Golf, tennis, and water sports are favorite pastimes here. Food lovers can choose from plenty of restaurants serving up great Low Country cuisine, and design enthusiasts will love viewing the architectural gems south of Broad Street downtown. -Peter Galuszka.

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Last updated July 02 2008: 11:16 AM ET
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