It’s not invulnerable to tough economic conditions, but West Virginia University’s hometown has proven to be more resilient than most cities.
For its ability to generate business during a recession, Morgantown has been ranked No. 10 among smaller metros (areas with populations under 245,000) in Forbes’ Best Places For Business And Careers. In a previous ranking, Forbes also listed Morgantown as the No. 2 college town in the nation for jobs. The latest news was also mentioned on the Yahoo Real Estate site.
“Morgantown benefits from large concentrations of higher education, government and health care activity,” said Dr. George Hammond of WVU’s College of Business and Economics. “These sectors tend to be less sensitive to national recessions. They also tend to attract workers with high levels of human capital, which contributes to strong long run growth.”
According to Forbes, many major companies prefer big cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles for their headquarters but small towns offer low business costs and strong employment prospects.
Morgantown was ranked among 184 small towns and rated according to 12 factors: costs (both living and business); job growth (past and projected); income growth; educational attainment; and projected economic growth. Other factors included quality of life issues like crime, cultural and recreational opportunities and migration trends. Finally, Forbes considered subprime mortgages and the presence of highly ranked colleges in an area per its annual college rankings.
Hammond, associate director of the business school’s Bureau of Business and Economics Research, reported in March that Morgantown’s growth in population, University enrollment and the overall economy has helped expand employment opportunities in the area. And, while no specific measure is available, economic officials agree that students have a significant impact on the local and state economy through the purchases they make on groceries, books, transportation, retail items and other goods and services.
“Certainly, the WVU students are not just consumers but also a resource for our community,” Ken Busz, president and CEO of the Morgantown Chamber of Commerce said. “Their brain power and ability to work in various businesses in Monongalia County goes a long way to helping the local businesses community. Also, there are many students who start their own business while attending WVU, which helps our economy.”
Making another Forbes list is one more in a long roster of accolades for Morgantown.
Earlier this month, the city was listed as one of eight of “America’s Top College Football Towns” by Budget Travel.
BizJournals.com described the city as the “No. 1 dreamtown” in the country and it was ranked as the Best Small City in the East and as third-best in America by the Guide to Life in America’s Small Cities. In the American Institute for Economic Research’s 2009-2010 College Destinations Index, Morgantown placed 19th in the “college towns” category.
The Sporting News described Morgantown as the 25th best sports city in the nation, despite being ranked among cities with professional sports teams.
MSN Careers named Morgantown one of the Best Cities for Jobs.
Other rankings include the 29th smartest place to live in the U.S. by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance; the 12th hottest small city: boomtown by Inc.; and the third-best small town in America by Men’s Journal.
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