business

No. 5 Athens, Georgia

The University of Georgia, medical services, manufacturing and hospitality energize our number-five pick.

Population: 183,351Income Growth: 9.3%Cost of Living Index: 100Median Household Income: $40,115Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 32%

It's nicknamed the Classic City for both its name and its neoclassical architecture, but Athens, Ga., is anything but old-fashioned. Although Southern charm clings to streets lined with Greek Revival mansions and Victorian-era storefronts, the air is charged with change.

The University of Georgia, for which Athens was created as a home, is in large part responsible for that energy. Athens has 110,000 residents, almost a third of whom are students. The university is the city's largest employer.

Though the economy in much of the state is in crisis -- half of Georgia's counties are reporting unemployment of 10% or higher, and the rate has jumped to 9.1% in Atlanta -- the unemployment rate in Athens is 6.8%.

In addition to the university, Athens boasts a hub of regional medical services and has an unexpected manufacturing base. Athens Regional Medical Center, St. Mary's Health Care System and Landmark Hospital, a long-term acute-care facility, provide health care and jobs not only for the community but also for nearby counties. International manufacturing companies, such as Carrier and DuPont, have operations in Athens.

Hospitality is another driver of the economy, and the only sector to have shown employment growth in 2009. Tourism and conventions add to the pot, but the big show is football season, when the Bulldogs come out to play.

The city offers an impressively eclectic variety of entertainment. As the birthplace of the B-52s, R.E.M. and Widespread Panic, Athens serves up music from rock and blues to alt-country. Boutiques and restaurants keep the downtown streets buzzing. Loft space and apartments sit above the hum, adding life after the last note of the night fades away.

NEXT: No. 6 Olympia

HOME | 12345678910 | Best Cities Center

Most Popular

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
Should You Take an Extra Big RMD This Year?
required minimum distributions (RMDs)

Should You Take an Extra Big RMD This Year?

Sometimes only taking the minimum IRA distribution can be a costly mistake. When deciding how much to withdraw this year, you need to consider the big…
November 23, 2021
The Berkshire Hathaway Portfolio: All 41 Warren Buffett Stocks Ranked
stocks

The Berkshire Hathaway Portfolio: All 41 Warren Buffett Stocks Ranked

The Berkshire Hathaway portfolio is a diverse set of blue chips, and increasingly, lesser-known growth bets. Here's a look at every stock picked by Wa…
November 16, 2021

Recommended

Bias at Work: How to Defuse a Ticking Time Bomb in Your Organization
careers

Bias at Work: How to Defuse a Ticking Time Bomb in Your Organization

An interview with the author of the book “Bias Interrupted” reveals hidden signs of bias in the workplace and offers ideas for what to do to help corr…
November 26, 2021
The Biden Tax Plan: How the Build Back Better Act Could Affect Your Tax Bill
Politics

The Biden Tax Plan: How the Build Back Better Act Could Affect Your Tax Bill

Depending on your income, the Build Back Better Act recently passed by the House could boost or cut your future tax bills.
November 22, 2021
Watch Out for Job Listing Fraud
Scams

Watch Out for Job Listing Fraud

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to find new employment in 2022, be on guard against job-listing scams.
November 22, 2021
What’s Stopping You from Making the Jump to a New Career?
careers

What’s Stopping You from Making the Jump to a New Career?

From procrastination to negative thoughts to paralyzing fear, here are 11 things that hold people back from taking a chance on a fresh start. Check th…
November 12, 2021