With five key criteria of investment, talent, sustainability, place and diversity as the metrics for evaluation, Fourth Economy, a Pittsburgh-based economic development consultancy, ranked communities according to their ability to achieve and maintain economic growth.
They identified Georgia's Clarke County, Indiana's Monroe County and Iowa's Johnson County at the top of their list, with Tompkins County, New York and Lee County, Alabama rounding out their top five communities with 100,000 to 150,000 people.
"Such communities, says Fourth Economy, have the characteristics "to attract modern investment and managed economic growth," and are preparing the ground for wage and employment growth, educational improvement, and other signs of health."
Stephen McKnight, the group's vice president of community and market assessments, says "top-performing communities often have strong and distinctive knowledge-based industries, and, frequently, university campuses." The more communities are able to stay innovative and understand what unique assets they are able to build upon, the better they are able to withstand economic instability, notes Schiller.
The group also listed Fayette County, Kentucky, New Hanover County, North Carolina and Sarpy County, Nebraska as top mid-sized communities with 150,000 to 300,000 people.