9 Myrtle Beach

PopulationMetro: 419,585
Come on in! The water in Myrtle Beach is fine, and so is the foreign direct investment.

Myrtle Beach has been a playground, resting place and resource since the Waccamaw and Winyah Indians walked the area’s 60 miles of shore. When the Intracoastal Waterway was established in 1936 and the town was incorporated two years later, an all-American getaway was born.

Today, 17 million visitors climb aboard 54 direct flights from around the country to frolic in calm waters, see the Ripley’s Odditorium, Mirror Maze, Haunted Adventure or Aquarium, and then go for a medieval dinner. After that, there’s the new 1.2 mile-long Oceanfront Boardwalk and Promenade, perfect for walking off the feast.

Myrtle Beach is a funhouse—in the water and out. All of which explains its #8 ranking for Product among small U.S. cities, which measures, among other things, attractions, accessibility and other infrastructure.

Place 59
Product 75
Programming 42
People 48
Prosperity 35
Promotion 79

If the weather is almost always pleasant at the beaches, the climate for business is even better. Myrtle Beach is one of the fastest-growing small cities in the country; and already home to 25 international companies, it’s in the top 10 for foreign direct investment.

The business community lauds the location as central, and the Conway-Horry County Airport is working to further position the city as a global hub strategically located halfway between New York and Miami and between the port cities of Charleston, SC and Wilmington, NC.