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Hed: Atlanta: TK

Atlanta has just about everything a city needs to create jobs. It's the state capital, and it's home to Emory University, a major research institution. As a highly efficient transportation hub, Atlanta gives area businesses a transportation cost advantage that has attracted a large base of wholesalers. The city is business friendly, and housing is relatively cheap. Relative to other big cities, Atlanta boasts a larger population of kids per household, which means it can support a growing retail base (up 10.9 percent in 2009).

It’s a hub for government jobs, as home to both the Sixth Federal Reserve District and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Media companies, including biggies like CNN, the Weather Channel, and Cox Communications, have a solid foothold. Only Houston and New York City are home to more Fortune 500 headquarters. “It’s just a very balanced economy, and there’s no city within 500 miles that competes with it,” says Stephen S. Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University in Washington, D.C. “Atlanta can be as big as it wants to be.”

One way to take advantage of that balanced economy: Join the army of management, scientific, and financial consultants that help support it. According to the BLS, jobs in specialized consulting will grow 84 percent nationwide by 2018.

[IMAGE CAPTION: Economic stimulus funds have given a boost to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many of Atlanta’s local research institutions.CK]