Located in the Ozarks, Fayetteville boasts an educated workforce and a fairly diversified economy - major employers range from Pinnacle Foods, which makes frozen dinners, to Hanna's, a manufacturer of potpourri and candles. But the biggest employer is the University of Arkansas, which also breeds opportunities for small companies. A local incubator currently houses 30 cutting-edge technology startups. Small businesses can also benefit from incentives such as InvestArk, a sales and use tax credit for $5 million in construction and expansion, available to companies that stay in the state for at least two years.
Housing costs are higher in Fayetteville than surrounding areas, but for residents, it's worth it. The city blends natural beauty, like the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, with a lively downtown square. -Peter McDougall and Mina Kimes