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Provo’s still got what it takes

City is ranked among top 10 for 2nd year in a row

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At the end of their search for the 10 best places to live in the country, the editors at Kiplinger's Personal Finance weren't surprised to find Provo among the ranks.

After all, it's not the first time the city has cracked the top 10 at Kiplinger's Personal Finance.

"We knew that Provo has a high number of people in the creative class," said Kiplinger's senior editor Robert Frick. "It's a pristine and good place."

For the second year in a row, the Provo metropolitan area finds itself among Kiplinger's list of best places to live. This year, it ranked 10th among the nation's top spots to live, work and play. The rankings were announced today and each city will be profiled in the July issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance, out on newsstands June 10.

Provo rounded off the list, following first-place Houston, Raleigh, N.C.; Omaha, Neb.; Boise, Idaho; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Fayetteville, Ark.; Austin, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; and Sacramento, Calif. In 2007, the Provo area placed in the top five among the nation's best cities to raise a family.

Mayor Lewis Billings said the ranking is just an indicator of the health of the area.

"The momentum in Provo is exciting and real," he said. "I credit our success to the residents, businesses and employees of the city whose hard work and ingenuity make this a great place to live."

Frick said Kiplinger's — a Washington, D.C., magazine that provides advice on managing money and achieving financial security since 1947 — employed a extensive methodology to determine which cities get the bragging rights. The magazine recruited Kevin Stolarick, of the Martin Prosperity Institute, a think tank that studies economic prosperity. Then Stolarick helped the staff devise an equation, including population growth, income growth and job growth.

Frick also said they looked at areas that had many workers employed in technology, education and professional fields.

After the list was compiled, Kiplinger's sent writers out to get a vibe for each city.

The writer who visited Provo dubbed the city a "pristine software Mecca" noting the top employers are Novell, Micron Technology and Omniture. She also noted the influence of workers recently graduated from Brigham Young University.

In a nod to the relatively quiet atmosphere, she quoted a real estate agent who said he's only placed one couple who were unhappy with the community.

"They wanted more nightlife," he reportedly said.

Leland Gamette, director of economic development, said the ranking speaks to the fact that Provo is a "very family-oriented community."

"It's a great place to come home and spend time," he said. "People today are looking for places that are good to raise families."

The July issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine is due out on June 10. The article will also be available online at www.kiplinger.com/money/bestcities.

E-mail: jdana@desnews.com