41. Harrisburg, N.C.

150803_BPL_Harrisburg
Courtesy of Nix Photography
AT A GLANCE
Population 13,189
Median Income $79,424
Job Growth 10.6%
Median Home Price $195,688
Property Tax $1,985

This year marks Harrisburg‘s debut on MONEY’s list, but it’s easy to see why the town is booming. Great jobs in nearby Charlotte fuel the area’s 10.6% projected job growth. And multi-million-dollar expansions by local employers like Pepsi Bottling Ventures are poised to attract more development. This solid employment scene has led Harrisburg to the highest homeownership rate in the county (90%), yet property taxes remain affordable.

Kid-friendly activities abound, but families have a lot more to like about the area than just the amenities: educational outcomes here are some of the strongest on our list. Harrisburg’s high school, opened in 2007, has been designated an Honor School of Excellence—North Carolina Board of Education’s highest distinction—for multiple years. The “Ragin’ Bulls” athletic program has also been quick to bring home several state championships, and the Blue Regiment marching band has twice been invited to London to strut their stuff in the world’s largest New Year’s Day parade.

With its location in the green countryside of the Carolina Piedmont, Harrisburg offers a lot for sports and outdoor lovers. Acres of state parks and the U.S. National Whitewater Center are a few miles away, while all the live action of NHL, NFL and NBA games are easy to catch in Charlotte, just a 25 minute drive up the road.

The lack of a clear downtown is one downside of the area. But Harrisburg is trying to remedy this through the development of its Town Center, a mixed-use area with suburban-style retail stores and housing.—Michaela Ross

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