Archive for Thursday, July 19, 2007

Lansing breaks top 100

City ranks No. 88 on list of best places to live by Money magazine

July 19, 2007

Mayor Kenneth Bernard welcomed the news this week that Lansing is one of the nation's top 100 "Best Places to Live" as determined by Money magazine.

To boot, Lansing is the only Kansas city to crack the top 100.

"That resonates beautifully," Bernard said.

The monthly magazine, in its August issue, ranks Lansing No. 88 in its top 100. Middleton, Wis., a suburb of Madison, earned the No. 1 ranking.

The magazine's Web site, CNNMoney.com/bestplaces, says this about "The City with a Future."

"Lansing's economy may have been jumpstarted by the opening of a state penitentiary about 150 years ago, but the city has worked hard to shed its jail-town image - and it's been successful. Its school system is one of the top-rated in the region, and more than one in three teachers have an advanced degree. It's a 15-minute commute to Kansas City, Kan., but maintains the affordability of a small town. The city has big plans for the future - the government recently bought 127 acres to turn into parkland with football fields, softball fields and, possibly, an aquatics center."

A statistical snapshot of the city, which also appears on the CNN-Money Web site, showed Lansing rated favorably against the "Best Places" average in several categories:

¢ Lansing enjoys a 91.5 percent rate for days when its air quality index is ranked as good, compared to an average of 77.3 percent among all of the "Best Places."

¢ There is an average of 2 personal crime incidents per 1,000 people compared to an average of 13.

¢ There is an average of 21 property crime incidents per 1,000 people versus an average of 206.

¢ The median cost of a home in Lansing is $204,729 compared to $359,352 among all "Best Places."

Bernard said the city had been tipped to its possible inclusion on the list when a reporter from the magazine called City Administrator Mike Smith.

"Mike had gotten a phone call that we may be on it, but the phone call only came about three days before the list was released," Bernard said.

Bernard said he looked forward to using the lofty ranking as a promotional tool for the city.

"We'll put it on all of our literature, our handouts for promoting the city for economic development. I think it'll become a part of our overall economic development message," he said.

Selecting the "Best Places"

For 20 years, Money magazine has compiled a listing of the "Best Places to Live" in the United States. This year, the magazine's editors and reporters decided to focus on "smaller places that offered the best combination of economic opportunity, good schools, safe streets, things to do and a real sense of community."

The magazine started with 2,876 cities with populations above 7,500 and under 50,000.

From that, Money screened out retirement-oriented communities, places where income was less than 90 percent or more than 180 percent of the state median and towns with a population of more than 95 percent white people, which left a list of 974 cities.

Editors then scratched towns with low education scores, high crime rates, declines or sharp increases in population, projected job losses or lack of access to airports or teaching hospitals, leaving 678 cities.

The remaining places were ranked, the magazine said, based on job, income and cost-of-living data; housing affordability; school quality; arts and leisure opportunities; ease of living; health-care access; and racial diversity.

Interviews with community leaders and residents, along with more culling of statistical data, were completed to come up with the top 70 and then top 25 "Best Places."

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