By Traci L. Moyer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — The city just got a boost from a national publication.
Forbes magazine has ranked Anderson as the 64th Best Small Places for Business and Careers in the nation.
It is a position officials say highlights the city's strengths and weaknesses.
“I would have put us first,” said City Council President David Eicks. “I would have definitely expected us to be higher than 64.”
The rankings were compiled from the 200 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the U.S. Forbes looked at projected economic growth through 2014 in addition to past and projected job growth, costs for business and living, income growth in the last five years and educational attainment for college and high school students. Other factors include cultural and recreational opportunities, annual college rankings and net migration patterns. Crime rates were not considered in the rankings.
Business costs and educational attainment were given the most consideration in the overall rankings.
Eicks said Anderson has experienced some difficult times in the past, but the city is headed in a positive direction. In 2012, 13 companies announced they would be locating or expanding their facilities in Anderson. The recent growth has resulted in about $216 million in investments and 1,100 new jobs to Anderson.
Andrew Wynbissinger, a technical specialist for Thomas Office Solutions, has one of those new jobs. Wynbissinger moved to the area from Ohio after being hired by his company in March. He said he is impressed by Anderson.
“Anderson is beautiful, vibrant and growing,” he said. “I’m excited to be a part of that process.”
Michael Hicks, director of Ball State's Center for Business and Economic Research, said the city could attain a higher ranking in the nation if the school systems are improved.
“In fact, the only thing keeping Anderson from being one of the fastest growing communities in the Midwest is the quality of the schools,” Hicks said. “That might seem like bad news, but it’s not. Schools can be changed in two or three years with the right leadership.”
Hicks said Anderson is strategically located in the state with an urban setting and leisure activities in addition to its proximity between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.
“All those things scream this place is about to grow and then you look at the school performance and you see how many households are voting with their feet,” Hicks said.
Mayor Kevin Smith agrees with Hicks.
“We understand what our challenges are and where we fail,” said Smith.
Smith said that the city has proven its ability to attract business even on a global basis and now they need to attract the people. He said the community needs to strive and place emphasis on the quality of education and training that is offered.
In 2007, Anderson was ranked 98th on the Forbes list for 100 Best Places for Businesses among Smaller U.S. Metro areas. The 2013 list criteria was modified slightly from that used to rank the city in 2007. The new criteria includes high school attainment but crime rates are no longer used.
“This gives us something to work toward,” Eicks said of the city’s ranking. “We are definitely moving in the right direction.”
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