9. Ascension Parish, LA
Ascension Parish, LA
Towns include: Gonzales
Job growth (2000-2010): 46.6%

Heavy industry is slowly coming back to life along the Lower Mississippi River in Ascension Parish. 250 jobs are expected to return to the area when Aluminum producer Ormet reopens its alumina refinery, which was idled five years ago. Add another 100 jobs to that when a refurbished bulk terminal opens its doors in the coming year.

Like many other counties on our list, Ascension has seen its population boom -- up by nearly half in the last decade. To accommodate the growing number of families, five new primary schools were built in the last three years and a sixth is on the way.

Families looking for entertainment could soon find diversion in a former Wal-Mart that a developer wants to turn into an entertainment complex. Plans for a movie theater, bowling alley and arcade could give residents something to do and create 70 new area jobs.


Last updated August 19 2011: 7:00 PM ET
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These terrific small towns -- even now -- boast great job opportunities, top-notch schools, safe streets, economic strength, and more.

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