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73: Orlando, Fla.
Population: 204,524
Pro: Theme parks help diversified economy thwart downturns
Cons: If gas prices keep rising, tourists may stay away

Entrepreneurial zeal runs strong in Orlando: A "loan day" event last year bringing borrowers and lenders together spawned 39 business loans totaling $750,000. Greater Orlando is relatively insulated from Florida's real-estate crash. It has a broad mix of financial services and manufacturing companies, along with businesses catering to the 40 million tourists a year who throng to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and other area theme-park attractions.

NASA's nearby Kennedy Space Center is a linchpin of the small-biz ecosystem. Other active players in cultivating startups include the University of Central Florida and the Disney Entrepreneur Center, a public-private collaboration offering counseling and other services. Orlando's thriving tourism business brings residents a wealth of local amenities - though it also represents an Achilles' Heel. If gas prices keep skyrocketing and the economy remains shaky, Orlando's economy is likely to suffer from the tremors. -Peter Galuszka

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NEXT: 74. Columbus, Ind.

Last updated July 02 2008: 11:16 AM ET
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