Archive for Thursday, June 10, 2004

Lawrence’s quality of life rates a 10

Magazine ranking expected to help lure businesses

June 10, 2004


Lawrence is on a roll.

One month after a study touted Lawrence as having the second-best K-12 school system in the country, the same magazine has determined the city has the nation's 10th-best quality of life.

Expansion Management Magazine pegged Lawrence at No. 10 after studying all 331 metropolitan areas in the United States.

Also in May, the city was touted by Forbes magazine as the sixth-best small metropolitan area for business and careers.

The latest ranking has area economic development leaders optimistic the city will be recognized by companies looking to either expand or relocate their business operations.

"It is another excellent report for us," said Alicia Janesko, director of economic development for the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. "It really helps put us out in front of the site selectors and the people who make the decisions for their companies."

Janesko said the fact the city scored well in several different reports should carry extra weight.

"It helps us a lot with our credibility as a community," Janesko said. "When you see some consistency in the rankings, you see there is a certain type of synergy in the community that is taking place."

Bill King, chief editor of Expansion Management, said the magazine made the rankings by reviewing data about schools, crime rates, incomes, cost of living, housing prices, unemployment rates and tax levels.

Quality of life isn't always a determining factor in a company's decision about where to locate, he said. But it often is important to companies in knowledge-based industries, such as life sciences.

"If you are in an industry that you have to compete nationwide for talent, the quality of life is still very important," King said. "If you are in a location that is perceived as being a dump, that is a major disadvantage."

Lawrence was ranked 49th in last year's report by the magazine. King said this year's study put more emphasis on educational components, which caused Lawrence's ranking to soar.

"What consistently stands out for us has been our schools," Janesko said. "Whether it is our secondary schools or our universities, that is where we usually start when we're promoting our community."

The study ranked the city in nine areas. It received its highest scores in the areas measuring the quality of schools and quality of the work force. In both, Lawrence ranked second out of the 331 metro areas studied.

Other rankings for the city included:

Expansion Management Magazine ranked the Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn., area as having the best quality of life. It ranked Lawrence No. 10. Here's a look at the rankings of other Midwestern metropolitan areas:¢ Columbia, Mo. -- 2.¢ Springfield, Mo. -- 20.¢ Kansas City -- 21.¢ Omaha, Neb. -- 29.¢ Lincoln, Neb. -- 33.¢ Topeka -- 37.¢ Wichita -- 119.¢ Boulder, Colo. -- 124.¢ Denver -- 208.
  • Housing affordability, 74.
  • Peace of mind, which includes crime rate data: 162.
  • Continuing education opportunities: 123.
  • Adult education levels: 46.
  • Access to air travel: 116.
  • Lack of traffic congestion: 66.
  • Standard of living, which includes income, poverty, unemployment and cost-of-living data: 206.

Janesko said the standard-of-living ranking was one the community would work to improve.

"We know it is important for us to attract more employers that are going to have quality jobs at reasonable wages with good benefits," Janesko said. "We don't need a ranking to tell us that. The community has been telling us that."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.