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Best Places to Live and Launch: Gainesville (No. 47), Doral (No. 51), Fort Lauderdale (No. 70), Orlando (No. 73), Sarasota (No. 90)

The sunny state's economy gets its strength from a diverse mix of industries, offering jobs in aerospace, agriculture, medical technology, software development, and tourism and leisure.

Kennedy Space Center, located a short drive from Orlando, is NASA's launch headquarters. Gainesville is home to the University of Florida; the state's Centers for Excellence program pairs university research facilities with outside companies to facilitate the growth of high-tech businesses. The Miami suburb of Doral is anchored by the Doral Golf Resort & Spa, which holds a PGA tournament every year. Fort Lauderdale is a major tourist destination, and also home to 1.6 million people age 65 and older. The temperate climate makes it an attractive place to settle down. A steady influx of immigrants - 90,000 a year - has built a multilingual labor force. These workers, combined with Florida's coastal location, makes the state a hub for international trade between North America and Latin America, the Caribbean and other countries.

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Last updated March 27 2008: 10:09 AM ET