Forget the government-sponsored venture fund and the tax credits for worker training. What attracts budding entrepreneurs is ample outdoor recreation, hip arts scenes, and good mass transit, according to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

The professors ranked cities by their cultural offerings, then tallied the number of highly educated residents. Low-ranking El Paso, for example, had only one resident with a graduate degree for every seven high school dropouts. In culture-heavy Boston, there were three postgrads for every four dropouts.

How does that lead to new businesses? Companies will go where the talent is, says CMU professor Richard Florida. And if they don't? "Every one of these people has a business plan in their back pocket," he says.

Sure beats a slide rule.

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