Fort Collins: Aspirational City?

Aug 13, 2013 | Business & Economy, Business-Friendly Environment, Economy, Talent

According to Forbes magazine, the Fort Collins area is one of the best places in America for business and careers.

The Forbes Best Places for Business and Careers list published in early August ranks the Fort Collins / Loveland metropolitan statistical area, as 7th best in the nation. Factors contributing to the score include ‘Cost of Business,’ ‘Job Growth,’ and ‘Education.’ We rank 78, 19 and 9, respectively, out of 200 cities.  Other Colorado cities making the list include Denver (#6), Boulder (#26), Colorado Springs (#44) and Greeley (#51).

Then there is the story on by Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox titled Hot U.S. Cities That Offer Both Jobs and Culture Are Mostly Southern and Modest SizedThe Fort Collins area did not make this particular list, which includes, in this order, Austin, New Orleans, Houston, Oklahoma City, Raleigh, Nashville, Richmond VA, Washington DC, San Antonio, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Dallas, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Charlotte NC and Columbus OH.

Kotkin and Cox used 3 broad factors to determine their cities with an emphasis on economics. They include economy (50 percent), quality of life (25 percent) and demographics (25 percent). They write “…we believe aspirational cities reflect a kind of urban arbitrage, where people look for those places that provide not just economic and cultural opportunity but a cost structure that allows them to enjoy their success to the fullest extent.”

What to make of these two lists? Well, let’s begin with what I call the ‘analytical subjectivity’ used to compile most of these kinds of lists. Said another way, the data used and interpreted by the compilers depends on the judgment of the compilers and what they decide to include and how they weight the factors.
We’ll make great use of the Forbes Best Places for Business and Careers ranking to market the community.

However, we won’t dismiss the Hot U.S. Cities list outright because it does place a strong emphasis on economic factors and affordability. Both the economy and affordability have been key messages that the Chamber has shared with city government officials in recent years. Making a great community by spending a lot of money on quality of life amenities is a good investment only if it adds to the community’s economic competitiveness. In part that means remaining affordable to the bright young talent that will drive the success of our primary employers in the years ahead.