Best Value Cities 2011: 1. Omaha, Neb.

A hot business climate, cool amenities and cheap-and-easy living earn Omaha our top spot.

Omaha? Omaha natives are sick of the question mark. And given the work this vibrant prairie town has done revitalizing itself over the past ten years, its low cost of living and its remarkably low unemployment rate, we’re naming it our top Great Value City for 2011, without question.

Money has never been an issue. This city of less than a half-million people is home to five Fortune 500 companies and arguably more millionaires per capita than any other U.S. metro area, thanks in part to native son Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. What the city needed was to revamp its downtown and waterfront, and create economic room for a fresh generation of entrepreneurs, who had been fleeing Omaha like it was Egypt during the exodus. And so the city set to work, rallying the big money to reclaim moribund blocks sucked of life by migration to the suburbs. New businesses such as Paypal moved to the area to take advantage of vast, cheap broadband access and the vaunted midwestern work ethic.

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Bob Frick
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance