By Pete Julius

How important are rankings? Do they really matter? Which rankings are most important? Who publishes the best, most widely used rankings? And where does your community rank? One answer to these questions can be found in Area Development’s recent publication of its annual Corporate Survey, which highlights six of the most important ranking criteria for development. The top ranking factors included state and local incentives, labor costs, availability of skilled labor, highway infrastructure, construction costs and favorable tax structures.  All of these criteria are becoming much more important with the increasingly popular trend of offshore outsourcing.  In Expansion Management Magazine’s July 2004 issue, their 2nd annual Mayor’s challenge compares all 331 MSAs for its own six categories.

The rankings were tabulated by deriving quotients for each of the six categories.  The six categories were

  1.  Public education – an evaluation of 2,800 school districts nationwide
  2. College-educated workforce – both in terms of quality and quantity
  3. Health care costs and availability – measured availability of quality care and cost
  4. Quality of life – affordable housing, low cost of living, crime rates, etc.
  5. Logistics infrastructure – infrastructure, workforce, and taxes/fees
  6. Government taxes & spending – tax structures that are more business-friendly

The Mayor’s challenge is broken out into four different rankings: 1) all 331 MSAs, 2) MSAs with greater than 2 million people, 3) MSAs with between 1 and 2 million people and 4) MSAs with between 250,000 and 1 million people.  Visit Expansion Management’s web site to see where your community stacks up.

Of course this is just one of the many magazines and other publishers that rank communities based upon infrastructure and business activity.  One ranking may not be better than another, but if your community continuously ranks pretty high, then your community is probably very competitive, especially amongst the availability of skilled labor and the overall costs of doing business.


Area Development (

Expansion Management (