For Immediate Release
The Rosen Group
The Rosen Group
Kiplinger’s Names 10 Best Value Cities of 2011Omaha, Charlotte and Nashville take top spots
Washington, DC (July 25, 2011)—Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has named its top ten cities that provide the best value—with value defined as low living costs, strong economies and great amenities. This year’s picks are profiled in the September issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, and online at www.kiplinger.com/links/bestcities with additional interactive features. To identify the winners, Kiplinger’s teamed up with Kevin Stolarick, research director at the Martin Prosperity Institute – a think tank that studies economic prosperity. “We searched beyond traditional economic measures and included quality of life and the ability to tap people’s creative potential,” says Stolarick, who this year provided data to evaluate U.S. cities for livability and greatest overall value. “People today are choosing locations based as much on amenities and atmosphere as they are on financial opportunities.” Kiplinger’s staff members visited each of the top ten cities to help determine the final rankings. These cities have several common themes. Public-private partnerships have been vital not just to creating great public spaces, but also to helping nurture business environments that attract employers and bring high-paying jobs. For example, Omaha’s Midtown Crossing has been one key to that city’s downtown renovation, and the completion of the Clinton Presidential Library in 2004 became the keystone of a renaissance in Little Rock, Ark. . Low living costs, especially when it comes to housing, make these cities ideal for people looking for value, or business owners seeking great places to open new operations. And our top ten also put a premium on livability, including lots of free amenities, music and arts venues, and outdoor activities. “It’s this trifecta of vitality, livability and low costs that we know our readers are interested in,” says Kiplinger’s senior editor Robert Frick. “And because all these cities have a high percentage of residents in the creative class—basically creative, educated people—which closely mirrors our readership, we think our 2011 Best Value Cities are communities where they’ll feel right at home.”
Kiplinger’s Best Cities 2011 package offers these special features online at www.kiplinger.com/links/bestcities:
· Narrated walking-tour slide shows with Kiplinger’s editors and writers
· A Which City is Best for You? calculator to help readers determine which city best matches their goals and tastes
· A spreadsheet that lets readers see where their own city ranks in different key categories
· A Facebook “Readers’ Choice” poll where audiences can vote for their favorite city among Kiplinger’s top 10 picks or add their own favorite city to the mix
Kiplinger’s Best Cities of 2011:
1. Omaha, NE—Omaha? Omaha natives are sick and tired of the question mark. Given the work this vibrant prairie city has done revitalizing itself over the past ten years, its cost of living and its remarkably low unemployment rate, Omaha takes the top spot without question.
2. Charlotte, NC—Home to Bank of America, several Fortune 500 companies including Lowes and steel company Nucor, and blossoming small business and energy sectors, Charlotte’s economy is both well-diversified and growing. The city is also making a push to become greener by attempting to reduce energy use downtown 20% by 2016. Top-notch schools, a flourishing culinary scene, as well as low taxes and utility rates make Charlotte a top-tier city.
3. Nashville, TN—Sure, Nashville is home to the Grand Ole Opry and the highest concentration of record labels, recording studios, music publishers and distributors in the nation. But the Music City also means business. The area is making a strong comeback from the recession and is expected to add more than 151,000 jobs by 2019 – mostly in the education, health services, and manufacturing fields. Amenities such as a free bike-share program for residents and no state income tax help make Nashville particularly attractive.
4. Colorado Springs, CO—Colorado Springs is proof that smart people flock to a diverse economy in a truly great outdoor setting wrapped in a happy vibe. The city is home to five military bases that employ 10% of the workforce, and more than a dozen colleges. To keep employment numbers rising, the city woos companies with tax incentives and its highly-educated workforce. Colorado Springs also has affordable rents and living costs.
5. Knoxville, TN—Knoxville has managed to avoid the sharpest impact of the Great Recession thanks to such economic drivers as the Tennessee Valley Authority (the nation’s largest public utility), the University of Tennessee and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The city also offers an abundance of free, eclectic, and family-friendly entertainment options, along with a revitalized downtown area. Low taxes, low energy/utility rates, affordable housing and free downtown public transportation also make Knoxville a cheap and desirable place to live.
6. Lexington, KY—Steeped in history, tinged with bourbon and surrounded by the horse farms that define its identity, Lexington has worked hard to protect its bluegrass pastures, brick-and-limestone buildings and small-town feel while cultivating a burgeoning downtown and a forward-looking economy. Affordable housing and utilities also help to make this northern-Kentucky city a top place to live.
7. Little Rock, AR—Revving Little Rock’s job market is a diverse economy, including a 500-person Caterpillar factory in North Little Rock, the headquarters of IT company Acxiom, and world-class medical centers. The completion of the Clinton Presidential Library in 2004 sparked a downtown renaissance. Additionally, a trendy arts scene and a collection of fine dining and local music establishments endear this great city to its residents.
8. Wichita, KS—Prices are typical of a small prairie town, but Wichita comes with surprising big-city amenities. Many workers head to one of the city’s several aviation manufacturing and research companies, including Spirit AeroSystems and Cessna Aircraft. A well-rounded selection of restaurants, theaters and other cultural venues blend in cosmopolitan flavor. Prices for homes and entertainment are both extremely affordable compared to the national average.
9. Cedar Rapids, IA—From grains to planes, a diverse economy attracts a high-tech workforce and cushions the city from downturns. The nearby University of Iowa provides Cedar Rapids residents with access to Big Ten sports, and the city itself is laced with parks, bike trails, and various entertainment options. The city has recovered nicely from the 2008 Cedar River flood, and housing costs and property taxes remain extremely affordable.
10. Cincinnati, OH—After taking a big recession hit, the city is flexing its economic muscle and revamping its downtown. With ten Fortune 500 companies, including Kroger, Macy’s and Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati’s diverse economy is making a strong comeback from the recession. The cost of living is about 7% below the national average. Cincinnati offers all the big-city amenities you’d expect, plus some you wouldn’t, including a park within one mile of every resident.
More on Ranking Methodology
Kiplinger’s included data from Martin Prosperity Institute research director Kevin Stolarick on population growth, unemployment rate, income growth, cost of living and cost of housing, among other factors, to get an initial list of cities. Also included is a “creative class” measure, which stems from Stolarick’s work with Richard Florida, academic director of the Martin Institute and author of The Rise of the Creative Class. This measure reflects the number of creative-class workers—including educators, writers, and scientists—living in the area. Further research involved traveling to each of the ten cities to interview business and community leaders and residents. The rankings factor in both the data and the results of Kiplinger’s reporting.
About Kiplinger’s Personal Finance
For nine decades, the Kiplinger organization has led the way in personal finance and business forecasting. Founded in 1920 by W.M. Kiplinger, the company developed one of the nation’s first successful newsletters in modern times. The Kiplinger Letter, launched in 1923, remains the longest continuously published newsletter in the United States. In 1947, Kiplinger created Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, the nation’s first personal finance magazine. Located in the heart of our nation’s capital, the Kiplinger editors remain dedicated to delivering sound, unbiased advice for your family and your business in clear, concise language. Become a fan of Kiplinger on Facebook or Kiplinger.com and follow Kiplinger updates on Twitter.
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