Many communities offer incentives to relocating businesses, and some have economic development zones, where the city provides tax abatements, low-interest loans, and other amenities to attract businesses.

When Patti Penny was looking for new headquarters for the Pen-Group, a $39 million employment agency based in Springfield, Mo., she opted not to rent. Instead, she took advantage of low property values in Springfield's downtown. Penny took over a former savings-and-loan building featuring ample parking and a drive-through window, where temps now can pick up their paychecks. The city fronted $50,000 toward renovation costs at a bargain 5% interest rate.

This article was adapted from material that first appeared in Inc. magazine in July 1997.