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21. Iowa City
Population: 64,933
Pros: Low cost of living, educated workforce
Con: Lack of nonstop flights to and from major hubs

Locals may joke about the lack of beachfront property or mountain views, but Iowa City has its own appeal. After all, there's good reason why Moore North America and Procter & Gamble have set up satellite offices here.

For one thing, living is affordable. The median home price is $158,250 - a relatively good deal compared to even, say, Boise, where the median price is $221,385 (according to 2006 statistics, the latest available). For another, the city offers an extremely business-friendly environment. The Iowa City Area Development Group and Priority One (Cedar Rapid's economic development arm) have joined forces to enhance the eastern Iowa business and community hub known as the Technology Corridor. Situated at the crossroads of Interstates 80 and 380, the Corridor lures firms with tax incentives and financial assistance. Statewide business-stimulus programs, such as tax exemptions on profits from overseas sales, also spark growth.

Iowa City is rich in arts and culture, thanks in large part to the University of Iowa. A 5,300-acre man-made reservoir four miles north of town allows the city's landlocked residents to boat, fish, swim, and water ski. Not exactly a beach, but close. -Peter McDougall

Interactive map: Iowa City
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NEXT: 22. Omaha, Neb.

Last updated July 02 2008: 11:16 AM ET
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