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FORTUNE RANKS SEATTLE NO. 1 AMONG U.S. CITIES FOR BUSINESS

SHARE FORTUNE RANKS SEATTLE NO. 1 AMONG U.S. CITIES FOR BUSINESS

Seattle, the United States' closest mainland port to Asia, is the nation's best city for business, Fortune magazine says.

"No city has escaped the ravages of recession, although Seattle has fared best by a long shot," the business magazine said in its fourth-annual ranking. The survey, released on Wednesday, appears in the Nov. 2 issue.Seattle's bustling seaport on Puget Sound and its proximity to Alaska's oil fields and the fish-filled Pacific make the city a good distribution point, the magazine said.

At the same time, Seattle is the home to America's biggest exporter - the aircraft giant Boeing Co. - and the nation's richest entrepreneur, computer-software whiz Bill Gates.

The rest of the Top 10, in order, are: Houston; San Francisco; Atlanta; New York; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Denver; Chicago; Boston; and Orlando, Fla.

Fortune compiled the ranking by asking Moran Stahl & Boyer, a business location consulting firm, to survey more than 900 executives, all of them Fortune subscribers, and evaluate the nation's 60 largest metropolitan areas.

Criteria ranged from taxes and social conflict to the quality of the labor force. Fortune then used the responses to calculate a city's quality of life and its competitiveness in a global economy.

Boeing, employing about 99,000 directly and possibly twice as many indirectly, is one foundation of Seattle's success.

Adding to the city's vibrancy is the rise of high-tech companies like Gates' Microsoft, which sold about $1.5 billion worth of software last year.

A survey released earlier this month by Forbes magazine showed Gates himself, a 36-year-old college dropout, is the richest individual in America, worth $6.3 billion.