Columbus, Indiana
Columbus, Indiana

This small Midwestern town of about 44,000 south of Indianapolis is known for its modernist buildings designed by some of the greatest architects of the past century.

But art and design wasn't what fueled the city's growth following the Great Recession. It was the town's manufacturing industry, which in 2010 contributed 6 percentage points to the area's impressive 10.1% GDP growth.

Diesel engine maker Cummins is the region's biggest employer. The company reported its most profitable year ever in 2010, mostly due to robust growth in international markets, including China, India and Brazil (more than 60% of its sales are generated outside the U.S.). In June, Cummins announced it plans to add 600 employees over the next few years to staff an $18 million office building for its central Indiana headquarters.

But with global demand expected to soften, it remains to be seen how Cummins and the town that has long depended on it will fare.

Last updated September 26 2011: 11:49 AM ET