The start-up rate for business incubators remains brisk. They're opening at the pace of one a week, the National Business Incubation Association reports. Nearly every state has at least one, but some boast quite a collection, with Rustbelt states claiming the greatest number of incubators.

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More corporate refugees are going into business for themselves, reports Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an international outplacement firm. Nearly 20% of the more than 600 discharged managers surveyed joined the entrepreneurial ranks last year, up dramatically from levels of only 6% to 8% in the early 1980s.

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1990 19%

1989 19

1988 18

1987 17

1986 11.5

1985 7

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"This is a great time to fund start-ups. Money goes a lot further, and there's less competition out there to fund them. Besides, when you start a new company, you're always funding losses to begin with. You might as well do that during a recession. When the economy begins to turn around, you'll have a product developed and built and you'll be ready to ride the tide up."

-- John Hodgman, president of Massachusetts Technology Development Corp.