Chattanooga, Tennessee (1/8)
Having earned the dubious designation of America's dirtiest city in 1969, Chattanooga has since made great strides to improve its natural and business environments. After investing in air quality improvement, the city tackled education standards and improved career training. Now, EPB, the public utility, is building a fiber network to improve the grid's reliability and performance, paving the way for business growth.
Next: Dublin, Ohio
Dublin, Ohio (2/8)
Also named to the 2010 Top Seven, Dublin has continued to make ICT advances. Its "DubLink" is a public-private fiber network that serves businesses, government, and schools. It has embraced e-government, and is now using dark fiber - unused fiber optic cable - to attract employers such as OhioHealth and the Online Computer Library Center.
Next: Eindhoven, Netherlands
Eindhoven, Netherlands (3/8)
Named to the 2009 and 2010 Top Seven, this Dutch city has long been the industrial center of the Netherlands. It's adjusting to changing times with "Brainport," a public-private system that identifies member organizations' challenges and develops ICT-fueled projects to meet their needs. In the past 10 years, it has helped create 55,000 jobs in the area.
Next: Issy-les-Molineaux, France
Issy-les-Molineaux, France (4/8)
Named to ICF's list in 2005, 2007, and 2009, this Parisian industrial zone experienced manufacturing's rise and fall. Since 1980, it has used ICT to transition to a high-tech economy. Today, some 60 percent of employers are in the ICT and digital media sectors. Its labor market is unusually strong, with 1,500 employers and 70,000 jobs - more open positions than there are people to fill them.
Next: Riverside, California
Riverside, California (5/8)
Riverside, a bedroom community to Los Angeles and home to four colleges and universities, is banking on ICT to jumpstart its economic future. The nonprofit Smart Riverside works on new tech programs and a CEO forum of local tech firms is developing a technology-fueled revamp. Plus, 80 percent of the city has access to fiber and wireless networks.
Next: Stratford, Ontario
Stratford, Ontario (6/8)
Stratford's business history goes back to its roots as a mill town in the 1800s. More recently, the city has made bold changes to bring its economy into the 21st century. A city-owned firm established Stratford's public WiFi network with more than 37 miles of fiber optic cable. It's now also home to the Stratford Institute, a digital media think tank, and the University of Waterloo's Masters of Business Entrepreneurship and Technology program.
Next: Windsor-Essex, Ontario
Windsor-Essex, Ontario (7/8)
Although its proximity to Detroit means that Windsor-Essex has also suffered similar economic woes, the city is creating a new business future based on ICT. WEDnet, a cooperative fiber network, meets the needs of individuals and public and private organizations, and is bringing broadband to underserved, rural areas. A public-private partnership is additionally creating a software technology alliance to lure entrepreneurs and mentor existing companies.