Today, Forbes announced its 16th annual report about the best and worst cities for business and careers in the U.S. It rated the 200 largest metro areas in the country on a dozen factors related to jobs, business and living costs, income growth, quality of life and education.
Business Review USA takes a look at the top 10 cities for business and careers in 2014
10. Nashville, Tennessee
Job growth in the Music City has average 1.2 percent over the last five years, which ranks fifth among the 200 largest metro areas. Nashville has a metro population of 1,670,200 and gross metro production of $87 billion.
9. Seattle, Washington
The Seattle metro area is home to some of the most iconic names in business including Amazon.com, Costco, Microsoft, Nordstrom and Starbucks. Its projected annual growth sits at 3.1 percent.
8. Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City is undergoing an eight-year, $1.8 billion makeover of its airport that is expected to pump $3.3 billion into the state's economy.
7. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
According to Forbes, the energy market has helped Oklahoma City have one of the best job and income growth rates over the past five years.
6. Lincoln, Nebraska
In Lincoln, business costs are below the national average. Unemployment in Nebraska’s capital is also just 3.1 percent, which is the lowest rate of the 200 largest metro areas in the U.S.
5. Fort Collins, Colorado
Rounding out the top five are a pair of Colorado metro areas: Denver and Fort Collins. Both feature highly educated workforces and strong net migration patterns. Many high-tech companies including Hewlett-Packard and AMD have relocated operations to Fort Collins in part to take advantage of the resources of Colorado State University and its research facilities. Fort Collins has the highest level of high school attainment (95 percent of the adult population) and ranks ninth best for college attainment at 45 percent.
4. Denver, Colorado
Denver’s business and living costs are higher than any other city in the top five, but its diverse economy and significant outdoor recreational options continue to attract educated, young professionals.
3. Provo, Utah
Provo, Utah, ranks third overall this year and leads a trio of Utah places near the top with Salt Lake City at number eight and Ogden at number 11. Brigham Young University brings a stabilizing presence to the $19 billion Provo economy. Job growth for Provo was top in the country last year, and it ranks seventh best over the past five years. Global multilevel marketing firm Nu Skin Enterprises, which is based in Provo, opened a new $100 million headquarters in the city in October.
2. Des Moines, Iowa
Des Moines ranked number one last year, however has dropped back to second place in 2014. The Iowa capital is a financial services hub and hosts a number of key employers including Marsh, Nationwide, Principle Finance and Wells Fargo. What’s more, the city has also been attracting a number of high tech companies of late, including Microsoft and Facebook, owing to its low energy costs. Microsoft announced plans in April to invest $1.1 billion in a new data center, which brings the company’s total investment in West Des Moines to nearly $2 billion. While Facebook has four data centers in the area.
Des Moines employers and employees can take advantage of business costs 17 percent below the U.S. average and living costs that are six percent lower than the national average. The city’s $38 billion economy is projected to grow at a robust four percent annual rate over the next three years, according to Moody’s Analytics.
1. Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh takes the top spot this year - moving up from third place in 2013 - owing to the fact that its business costs are 18 percent lower than the national average and 42 percent of its adult population is educated to a college level or higher, the 12th best rate in the U.S.
Raleigh is home to North Carolina State University and nearby schools include Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Research Triangle Park, located in the city, continues to fuel growth to the area being the largest research park in the country. It houses more than 170 companies, who combined, employ 39,000 full time employees in the high tech sector. There have been 1,800 start-up companies created at RTP since 1970.
Raleigh has also been hailed as good location for startups owing to low regulatory hurdles compared with other cities. Projected annual job growth for the Raleigh area is 3.7 percent through 2016, which ranks seventh best among the 200 biggest metro areas.