Most university cities such as Lawrence have a leg up on other communities.
Many residents are highly educated. The city likely has a vibrant arts and sports scene. The business community benefits from a constant influx of people who spend money.
Lawrence has all these advantages. It also has its share of problems - higher than average home prices, low wages, increasing taxes.
But how do those issues compare with other similar Midwest university cities?
The Lawrence Journal-World, 6News and World Online set out to determine where Lawrence stacks up compared with Ames, Iowa, home of Iowa State University; Iowa City, Iowa, where you find the University of Iowa; Manhattan, with its Kansas State University; Columbia, Mo., home to the University of Missouri; Norman, Okla., the city of the University of Oklahoma; and Stillwater, Okla., the locale for Oklahoma State University.
The comparisons range from street maintenance to property taxes, and acres of public parks to student-teacher ratios.
Several reports were reviewed and agencies consulted, including the National Center for Education Statistics, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, an analysis of government accounting by Kansas University's Department of Public Administration, and reviews of each town's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.
Results were shown to experts to add perspective to the numbers.
While it is difficult to formulate complete apples-to-apples comparisons because of budgeting differences and varying test standards, trends do take shape.
Read on and see how Lawrence measures up.