When Clara Gustafson, a recent graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., told her friends that she was moving to Baltimore, a lot of them looked at the 24-year-old as if she were crazy. “You’re going to live in The Wire!” the Portland, Ore., native remembers them saying – a reference to the HBO series focused on the illegal drug trade, set in her soon-to-be hometown. “I didn’t know what to expect,” she says.

But Ms. Gustafson had snagged a prestigious fellowship with a new organization called Venture for America, which matches talented young people with start-up companies in cities such as Detroit, Cincinnati, and Providence, R.I. – cities that are not traditional magnets for college graduates. And she was thrilled when she got a job offer from a cybersecurity start-up called ZeroFOX, based in one of Baltimore’s downtown neighborhoods. So she packed up and moved to the town that boosters call Charm City, and that others have dubbed Bodymore, Murderland.  Read on.