Places Bouncing Back From the Great Recession

These unexpected areas provide new opportunities for those looking to re-launch a career.

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Rebound in an unlikely place. According to Jennifer Mapes, a visiting assistant professor in the State University of New York—Plattsburgh's geography department, some of the best opportunities for workers looking for a change are in the Rust Belt, or the chain of once-industrial cities stretching across the Midwest.

Many people still view the Rust Belt as a symbol of economic failure. However, according to Mapes, this belief is exactly what makes these cities attractive to workers. "Cities that had no downside before the recession have nowhere to go but up," she says. "They now have to be aggressive, but the opportunity is there."

The key to this type of recovery is a willingness to accept risks, and deep pockets willing to take a chance. Take Pittsburgh, for example. The steel industry made many people there rich. When steel left town, these people were willing to make gambles on healthcare and technology. Those gambles are now paying off.

"I don't think you're going to be successful without this sort of a gamble," Mapes says. "Incremental changes in small towns aren't going to get you anywhere. The last few years have really shown me that you can enact change—you can push back against national and international forces."