MSA: Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT
Best places ranking: #5 among large metro areas
Hartford, a two-hour drive from both Boston and New York City, is the capital of one the country's wealthiest states, and a low-cost alternative to other major cities in the Northeast.
The past few years have seen new life -- hotels, restaurants, a convention center and a science center -- sprouting in the historic city, where you'll also find the country's first public art museum and oldest public park. About half the jobs in Hartford require at least a bachelor's degree (finance, insurance, medicine, professional management and government are the primary local paycheck-makers) but there's also an abundance of lower-cost workers available for hire.
Specialty manufacturing and technology firms do well in Hartford -- it's one of the most-wired cities in the U.S. thanks to programs like "Wireless Hartford," which brings free Wi-Fi to zones targeted for development. Also, manufacturers that relocate to or expand in Hartford may be eligible for a property tax abatements and corporate tax credits.
One of Hartford's struggles is academic underachievement. This fall, the city introduced High School Inc., a four-year insurance and finance academy for high school students. Funded by the local business community, High School Inc. is designed to prepare students for college and give the businesses a chance to develop their next generation of workers. -Sara Pepitone
Resources for getting started in Hartford, CT
Local startup resources
Hartford Business Statistics
"What is attractive is the city's central location. Most of our business comes from outside Hartford, from as far as New York and Boston -- people driving by who stop in. " -Imani Zito