Money magazine, in its eighth annual review of the comforts of U.S. cities, named Provo-Orem as the third most livable place in the United States and Salt Lake City-Ogden right behind in fourth place.
In 1991, the Provo-Orem area ranked first among the most livable cities, but fell to eighth place in 1992 when the economy cooled as the result of layoffs at Geneva Steel and Signetics closing its plant. That same year Salt Lake City-Ogden ranked 46th in the survey.In 1993, the Salt Lake City-Ogden area moved up to 14th place and Provo-Orem slipped to 13th place.
This year the magazine had bad news again for Jackson, Mich.
"Again?" cried Marion May, the mayor's secretary in Jackson. "They always have us at the bottom of the pit, but we still like it here."
Jackson finished last of the 300 cities Money surveyed to rank the "Best Places to Live in America." The results, published in its September issue released Wednesday, again showed economic weakness in a number of small Midwestern cities at the bottom of the list.
Raleigh-Durham, N.C., was this year's most livable place, up from No. 5 in Money's rankings last year. Rochester, Minn., fell to second place.
Salt Lake Mayor DeeDee Corradini said, "It is even more confirmation of the fact that we have one of the greatest qualities of life in the United States, if not the world." She said the high ranking "could be a positive thing" in light of the upcoming bid for the 2002 Olympic Games.
Fred S. Ball, president of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, said he talked to Money magazine employees during the survey and knew the areas would be ranked high. "It's a major tribute to the Wasatch Front to have the entire metropolitan area on the list. Certainly this will enhance an already-glowing reputation the area has across the country."
Ogden Mayor Glenn Mecham said an attractive feature of the area is that it is a place in which its residents can both live and work. "We are working in both business development and residential housing for safe and affordable housing for all. It is a place people can feel safe living."
Joseph A. Jenkins, Utah Department of Community and Economic Development executive director, said, "The rankings of two of our major population areas are confirmation of what we have felt along that Utah provides an outstanding quality of life. Our single greatest incentive for growth is the quality of life we now enjoy. Protecting that quality of life must also be a priority as we continue to grow and expand."
"It's nice to read your name in a national publication that says you're living in a great place," said Utah County Commissioner Malcolm Beck.
"It's not all positive," said Orem Mayor Stella Welsh. If we can maintain the atmosphere and the livability and the things that are desirable that's great, but if it starts to go then that'll be different."
Beck said moving back up the magazine's ladder is an indication that local leaders have done a good job keeping pace with growth. With the valley growing at such a fast rate, it would have been easy to slip off the magazine's list by not meeting the increased demand for services.
Local leaders say the magazine ranking means new jobs and an increase in tourism. The magazine spurs curiosity among travelers and businesses nationwide who give a lot of credence to the magazine when looking for places to relocate.
After the two metropolitan areas in Utah came San Jose, Calif.; Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.; Gainesville, Fla.; Seattle; Sioux Falls, S.D.; and Albuquerque, N.M. None was in the Top 10 in 1993 except for Sioux Falls, which was No. 9 then and No. 1 in 1992.
The second 10 were San Diego; Denver; San Francisco; Phoenix; Nashua, N.H.; Madison, Wis.; Austin, Texas; Pueblo, Colo.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Columbia, Mo.
Money ranks cities based on 43 items, determined by a survey of its affluent, investment-minded readers.
The magazine said its readers were most interested in low crime, clean water and air, good health care, strong government and low taxes. Crime finished as the most important issue for the first time this year.
Raleigh-Durham has an unemployment rate of just 3 percent, three large universities in Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State and several large medical centers.
At the bottom, in descending order, were Glens Falls, N.Y.; Flint, Mich.; Saginaw-Bay City-Midland, Mich.; Rockford, Ill.; and then Jackson.
Jackson, a city of 150,000 in southeastern Michigan, is about halfway between Detroit and Lansing.
It is home to Michigan's largest prison and crime inside its walls gets recorded as crime in Jackson, a big minus in Money's survey.
Comparing the top 10 cities
Although no metro area sweeps top honors across the board in Money magazine's ranking of the livability of 300 U.S. metropolitan areas, No. 1-ranked Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, N.C. scores extremely well in four of nine broad categories. The table awards 100 points for the best score of all 300 places in each category.
Health Economy Education Weather Arts
Crime Housing Transit Leisure
1. Raleigh/Durham/ Chapel Hill, N.C. 88 20 93 88 95 41 38 4 28
2. Rochester, Minn. 96 63 71 43 97 81 14 25 26
3. Provo/Orem, Utah 59 58 79 61 41 58 29 37 22
4. Salt Lake City/Ogden 72 27 81 75 51 40 26 35 22
5. San Jose 82 35 37 25 40 27 83 93 91
6.Stamford/Norwalk Conn. 86 53 74 40 14 18 28 88 100
7. Gainesville, Fla. 45 4 92 49 45 45 79 5 22
8. Seattle 79 20 67 28 62 28 47 94 52
9. Sioux Falls, S.D. 71 54 96 43 6 75 9 2 14
10.Albuquerque 61 13 63 94 36 42 43 23 17