It's still a tough job market, but opportunities have been on the rise in these counties, making them great places to live and work.
Gwinnett County, GA
Gwinnett County is going global. Nearly 600 international businesses call Gwinnett home, drawn by its proximity to Atlanta's airport (the busiest in the world). Companies from Japan, Korea, China and Germany all have a strong presence here.
Mitsubishi Electric is expanding its operations there, going from three smaller buildings into one 550,000-sq.-ft. facility. As part of the move, the company expects to add 100 warehouse and engineering employees to its current 300.
Domestic firms are in growth mode too. Primerica just opened the doors of its new Duluth headquarters to 1,600 employees, and has space for 200 more. Like donuts? National DCP, the sourcing, purchasing and distribution partner for Dunkin' Donuts, will open a corporate office there in August, bringing 125 full-time administrative positions with it.
Santa Rosa County, FL
Aerospace and manufacturing firms are landing in Santa Rosa County. Already a base for dozens of aviation fabrication and parts manufacturers, economic developers are focused on snagging more.
Avalex Technologies, a military surveillance equipment supplier, employs 60 workers at its new facility and expects to add staff, said Shannon Ogletree, director of economic development for Santa Rosa County. Priton, which makes quick assembly windows, doors, plumbing and electrical hookups for affordable housing, plans to hire 30 workers as it settles into its new home in Santa Rosa Industrial Park. WTEC, a renewable energy service company, is expanding with plans to hire more than 100 employees.
Tourists also are touching down in the county that has rebranded itself "Florida's playground." A recent study estimated that Santa Rosa has 1,144 jobs in the field.
Mark Zuckerberg during a Facebook press event to introduce 'Home' a Facebook app suite that integrates with Android in Menlo Park
Weber County, UT
Weber County's full of farmland, but it's growing industry, not just produce. Condiment-maker Southern Classic Food Group is building a new manufacturing facility for 50 employees in Business Depot Ogden, a business and industrial park, according to Douglas Larsen, Economic Development Director for the county.
Quality Bicycle Products invested $5 million in a distribution center and added 100 jobs, according to Larsen. Barnes Aerospace expanded into the county, creating 474 new full-time jobs.
The service sector is strong too. Home Depot has trained 480 new people for its national customer service and sales center in Ogden and expects to create 691 jobs by 2015, with nearly 200 paying 125% of the average county wage, according to Larsen.
Broomfield County, CO
Broomfield County is cooking up business. Its new Kitchen Coop serves as an incubator and manufacturing site for 11 up-and-coming organic and natural food businesses, including baking company Bella Gluten-Free and nut butter company Kolat. Meanwhile, Famous Brands International, the maker of Mrs. Fields cookies and TCBY frozen yogurt, relocated its headquarters, franchisee-training center and flagship shop to the county, bringing 40 jobs.
Active Network, an event registration software company, is consolidating several of its operations in Broomfield and plans to hire 200 more employees over the next five years, according to Bo Martinez, director of economic development for the county.
The county's location near the University of Colorado and 16 federal science, research and engineering centers makes it attractive to Fortune 500 companies. Indeed, Ball and Level 3 Communications are headquartered here.
Dallas County, IA
Dallas County economic developers say they're at the center of it all. That's easy to say when two Interstates cut through the area, giving businesses quick access to points east, west, north and south.
Known for its dependable, productive workforce, this Midwestern county has attracted thousands of jobs from financial services firms including Wells Fargo Home Mortgages, Aviva USA and Farm Bureau Insurance.
Agribusinesses and IT companies are growing their research and development operations and looking at additional plants too. Microsoft invested $678 million and created 29 jobs there with the expansion of its Dallas County data center.
Jang Sung-Taek Visits China
BEIJING, CHINA - AUGUST 13: North Korean politician and uncle of the leader Kim Jong-un, Jang Sung-taek is seen upon arrival at Beijing Airport on August 13, 2012 in Beijing, China.
DeSoto County, MS
DeSoto County businesses are already well-connected, with several key highway links and major railroads nearby. The construction of Interstate 269, under way now, will put the county in the job growth fast lane for years to come. The 60-mile loop will one day join a superhighway stretching from Mexico to Canada.
The new $137 million, 100-bed Methodist Olive Hospital is set to open its doors, reportedly with 275 employees including nurses, doctors and pharmacists. Area boosters are hoping physicians' offices and other health businesses will sprout up next.
Private sector activity includes longtime DeSoto business Shamrock Plank Flooring, a division of J.T. Shannon Lumber, which is expanding its manufacturing operations, a move that's reportedly expected to create 25 jobs.