"I could live anywhere, but Atlanta is where I choose to live," says Lloyd Solomon, director of the Yamacraw Seed Capital Fund, a Georgia-sponsored program that aims to pump cash into tech start-ups. "We are a world-class technology city." There's reason for that confidence. Big players call Atlanta home-the marquee names are Earthlink and WebMD-but the tech sector runs deep. "We have 200,000 workers in 10,000 companies," says Hans Gant, senior vice president of economic development for the metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.
Why it's hot: Georgia Tech offers brains as bedrock, and Atlanta has built out its strengths. The city has one of the globe's best telecommunications infrastructures, low costs of doing business and living, and a powerfully growing enthusiasm for entrepreneurship. Another plus: venture capital has been flooding the region.
What's not hot: Summers are plain horrible. Also, fast growth has spawned legendary traffic jams. A third problem: Some of the country still sees Atlanta as the Deep South, and that label means the town is perceived as backward-an issue in recruiting staff.
Hot eats: Try the Buckhead Diner-don't miss the homemade potato chips served with warm blue cheese dip. Another must-eat: the White House Restaurant. "Lots of deals get done there," says Denise Garner, an account executive with Duffey Communications.
Hot networking spots: The annual Georgia Technology Forum is "the hottest event in town," says Rebecca Thompson, senior account executive with Manning Selvage & Lee PR.