MSA: Bowling Green, KY
Best places ranking: #12 among small metro areas
Bowling Green is busy reshaping itself.
The city's $250 million downtown redevelopment project includes the newly built Bowling Green Ballpark, home to the Bowling Green Hot Rods minor-league baseball team. The park hosted its first game this spring. New retailers and businesses have opened up around the city's scenic Circus Square Park, and a new performing arts center is in the works for a 2014 debut.
Fruit of the Loom and General Motors' Corvette manufacturing plant make up two of the city's largest and most well-known employers. Despite GM's recent woes, its National Corvette Museum continues to attract car aficionados. Auto suppliers, one of the city's main industries, have struggled, but still take advantage of the city's prime location off Interstate 65 -- a thoroughfare between Detroit and car manufacturing plants in the South.
But the city is also shifting toward developing high paying jobs in technology. A new, environmentally friendly business park, Kentucky Transpark, is drawing high-tech employers and features a training and research center in partnership with the Kentucky Community & Technical College System and Western Kentucky University. Western Kentucky University is also spurring innovation through its small business and high-tech incubators. -Ellen Lee
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"We farm and work the land and the cows. It's a way of life that we love." -Carl Chaney