Smokestacks, steel mills, oil refineries, paper-mill aromas. Old economy, blue collar, poor education, high crime. Old infrastructure, layers of industrial grime, worn-out downtown centers. Middle-of-nowhere locations too far from favored regional cities to be relevant.

Not the kind of places you or I would buy real estate, right?

Maybe not. But a number of places across the U.S. have visibly escaped their industrial past and the economic malaise that went with it.

As a Millionaire Zone real estate investor, I like to look at where the puck is going. So I look for places once avoided but now embraced by the upwardly mobile and the so-called "creative class" of entrepreneurs and new-economy workers.

Times change and places change. With the right circumstances and local leadership, the once decrepit can rise into winners. Such places can be good locations to live or to invest.

Click here for the video version of this story from Jennifer Openshaw.

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