17. Mason, Ohio
|AT A GLANCE|
|Median Home Price||$175,550|
Mayor David Nichols, former CEO of a publicly-traded manufacturing company, continues his great track record of luring big employers and quality jobs to this suburb north of Cincinnati. Procter & Gamble, which has its beauty and healthcare division here, announced it’s adding 1,400 R&D jobs, and Festo, the German maker of high-tech automation products, is moving most of its U.S. manufacturing to Mason from New York.
The job mix attracts a workforce from all over, and that diversity shows up in Mason’s schools -- 27% of students are nonwhite. With more than 3,300 students, Mason High School is the largest in Ohio, but its “bigger is better” approach (67 athletic teams and 80 extracurricular clubs) has consistently landed it in the state’s Top 10 of academic ratings. The schools’ latest boast: The high school’s jazz band will be playing in the Rose Bowl parade in January.
Strip malls and big-box retailers are the norm, but residents regularly flock to what seems to be Mason’s true hub, the 199,000-square-foot community center, one of the state’s largest public facilities.—Vanessa Richardson