MSA: Huntsville, AL
Best places ranking: #1 among midsize metro areas
In the 1960s, Huntsville was often racked with earthquake-like rumblings as NASA's engineers tested boosters for rockets that would carry astronauts to the moon.
In the past 50 years, this small city in northern Alabama has morphed from cotton capital to rocket town to high-technology hub. The U.S. Army's Aviation and Missile Command is housed in the nearby Redstone Arsenal, and the federal government employs more than 8% of the local workforce. But the city's thriving engineering community and tradition of innovation have also made it a breeding ground for tech entrepreneurs.
Business owners benefit from Huntsville's low cost of living and beautiful surroundings. Still, they have a few grumbles: Venture capitalists are scarce in this small city dominated by government contractors. Travel can be difficult too, with no direct flights from the small airport to New York City or L.A. -Malika Zouhali-Worrall
Resources for getting started in Huntsville, AL
Local startup resources
Huntsville Business Statistics
"You need a critical mass to build something like another Silicon Valley, and I think we're starting to see that develop in Huntsville." -Jerry Gabig