2009 Population: 1.125 million
Percent growth 2000-2009: 40 percent
Being home to such well-known universities as Duke, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest fuels a young and educated population in the "Research Triangle," which includes Raleigh, Durham, and Cary. The universities are some of the area's biggest employers, but small businesses also thrive there, with nearly 30,000 in Raleigh alone. In 2009, CNN Money named Raleigh one of the best places for small business startups. Nearby Cary was the third-fastest growing city of 100,000 people or more between 2008 and 2009. A 2009 article in Bizjournals predicts Raleigh will be the fastest-growing metro area through 2025.