Monday, July 26, 2010

Yeah Des Moines, Now Go Eat Some Corn on the Cob

Forget fields of corn. Start thinking field of dreams. Take a closer look, America! Des Moines, Iowa has been named the Best Place to Live in two categories.


After floating in and around the top ten in recent years, Des Moines finally took the top spot. The capital city actually grabbed two number one rankings for Best Place for Business and Careers and the Best Place to Raise a Family. For the business and careers title, Des Moines emerged from a field of the top 200 most populous cities in the U.S. The majority of the top 10 cities are located in the mid-section of the country.

According to Forbes, Des Moines' educated workforce, employment growth and low cost of living/doing business marks the city as a great place for industries that pay well. Over 92% of Des Moines residents graduate from high school while about 33% ear a college diploma.

Business

Forbes cited factors favoring a positive business environment as a reason for companies to relocate to Iowa's largest metro area. Business costs in the city of 560,000 rate about 15% below the national average.

In addition to Forbes' assessment of Des Moines, other sources such as Market Watch Magazine and Kiplinger Personal Finance Magazine have placed Des Moines in their top ten lists for the best business environment. Considering that Des Moines is home to several financial, insurance and publishing giants, the city would be hard to overlook. A few of the big boys who call Des Moines home are, Wells Fargo Financial, Nationwide Insurance (Allied), Principal Life Insurance Company, and Meredith Corporation.

Recreation

Adding the Best Place to Raise a Family to Des Moines' award list, Forbes cited Des Moines recreation facilities as an asset. Boasting 40 miles of biking and hiking trails weaving in and around the city a sophisticated trail system extends to destinations like Saylorville leading to more recreational fun. Downtown amenities like Gray's Lake and Water Works Park, accommodate nature lovers while Iowa Events Center or Hoyt Sherman Place extend sports, music and theater fans the opportunity to enjoy top notch entertainment and cultural events.

Culture

Another Des Moines asset, the art scene is gaining national recognition. Des Moines Art Center, the Arts Festival and the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park attract visitors from around the globe. The Pappajohn collection, with an estimated value of over 40 million dollars, is set in Western Gateway Park in the center of the downtown area. The concept for the rolling design was originally planned about 20 years ago by New York architects Mario Gandelsonas and Diana Agrest.

Entertainment venues

Entertainment, recreation and culture blend to offer a diverse collection of activities in Des Moines. In addition to big ticket musicians like the Black Eyed Peas, Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, or Justin Beiber and the sold out theatrical productions of Wicked, Rent or the Lion King, visitors can find a one-of-a-kind entertainment event. The Iowa State Fair. Fans from all over the nation attend the largest state fair in the country. The Iowa State Fair is a top ten destination on its own.

Education and highly ranked colleges

Another highlight helping Des Moines in the ratings was education. With the solid reputation of Drake University located in the city as well as a medical school, Des Moines University and several other colleges, education is a main attraction. The relative short distance of the University of Iowa in Iowa City and Iowa State University in Ames reinforces diverse educational choices. In addition, some Des Moines suburbs offer some of the top secondary schools in the state.

Rankings

For the business/careers category, Forbes rated 200 cities including the smallest metro area of Merced, CA with just under 250,000 people to the ultra-urban setting of New York City's 11+ million residents. A research firm analyzed data in 12 measurable areas. Cost of living and cost of business, job growth, educational attainment, project growth of the economy and income growth were considered. Other factors influencing quality of life such as crime rates, recreational opportunities, cultural events, highly ranked four-year colleges in the area and net migration patterns were considered for both rankings. An analysis of the past three years regarding the percentage of subprime mortgages given was another element studied.

For readers interested in more information on the Best and Worst Places to Live, check on line. Forbes.com is a good starting point; then type in the name of a city of interest