MSA: Baton Rouge, LA
Best places ranking: #9 among midsize metro areas
Louisiana's state capital has become an epicenter for tech firms, which benefit from recently approved tax credits intended to expand the industry. It's also home to a growing engineering and construction field, with firms winning national projects and post-Katrina restoration work.
In the last few years, Louisiana has approved tax incentives of up to 35% off the state's corporate income tax for digital-media companies and up to 40% for firms that do research and development in the state. The digital-media credit helped convince video game giant Electronic Arts to open a testing center in Baton Rouge last year.
Many of the engineering and construction companies coming to Baton Rouge are helping to rebuild New Orleans. But they're also are catering to Baton Rouge's rising population: The metropolitan area grew 11% from 2000 to 2008, according to Census data.
Entrepreneurs say they're benefiting from a wealth of young, educated talent in Baton Rouge. The city is home to Louisiana State University, Southern University and Baton Rouge Community College, and many of Louisiana's other universities and colleges are located within an hour's drive.
Baton Rouge's quality of life - or joie de vivre - is one of the main reasons entrepreneurs say they love being in the city. They enjoy crawfish boils and other traditional Louisiana cooking, as well as an atmosphere where people work hard but enjoy an active social scene after hours. -Sheena Harrison
Resources for getting started in Baton Rouge, LA
Local startup resources
Baton Rouge Business Statistics
"I was born and raised in Baton Rouge and came back after 20 years. The food here is unbelievable. " -Jacqueline Beauchamp