Growth (2000-2010): 33.1%
Knoxville currently has the best employment outlook in the nation, with 25% of employers in the area saying they expect to add jobs this spring, according to staffing firm ManpowerGroup.
The area's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which has a budget of $1.65 billion and employs 4,400 people, has had a huge impact on the city's jobs picture. Not only does it hire a lot of workers with advanced degrees, but its research has also spawned several start-ups, said Mike Edwards, CEO of the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce.
One project the lab is pursuing is ethanol production from switchgrass, a perennial prairie grass that can be fermented to produce alcohol. That could open up a whole new industry in the area, said Edwards.
In addition, Knoxville and the surrounding area have excellent transportation facilities, including rail, interstate roads and river barges, making it a prime spot for local auto suppliers and food processors to ship goods.
The cost of living is also low -- about 80% of the national average -- as is crime. There are also good public schools and plenty to do outdoors with nearby mountains, fishing streams and lakes.
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