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31. Leesburg, Va.
Population: 46,645
Pro: Strong growth
Con: Sprawl

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Leesburg is known for its natural beauty, Civil War battlefields - and start-ups: The town boasts almost 3,000 businesses and welcomed 451 new ones in 2006.

Major industries include healthcare, real estate, retail, construction and education, though no single industry dominates the economy. The city's combination of affluence and proximity to both Dulles Airport and the original America Online headquarters draws a mix of international firms, technology startups, retail boutiques, and, more recently, a growing medical industry sector. Many of these businesses find a home in the historic downtown, which the National Register of Historic Places cites as among the most picturesque in Virginia. The town serves as the seat of Loudoun County, which posted some of the country's strongest employment and earnings growth since 2000.

Residents and visitors benefit from 17 parks and more than two dozen vineyards. Downtown retailers, restaurants, galleries and other consumer businesses benefit from monthly "First Friday" celebrations, complete with live music and other performances. Residents also have access to the cultural activities of the nation's capital, just 40 miles away. -Kelsey Abbott

Interactive map: Leesburg, Va.
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Last updated July 02 2008: 11:16 AM ET
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