Arlington County ranked number one among similar-sized counties in this year’s Fourth Economy Index, which recognized it for attracting talented people, supporting business growth and creating vibrancy.
The index, which was established in 2012, assesses counties in five areas: investment, talent, sustainability, place and diversity. Arlington won for counties with 150,000-499,999 people, ahead of Chesapeake in Virginia (near Norfolk) and Shawnee County in Kansas (which includes the city of Topeka).
“A vibrant business community, lots of arts and entertainment and low unemployment all contribute to a higher quality of life for this No. 1 community,” the citation reads.
Arlington came in first because of its high scores in place, talent and diversity. The index said Arlington’s location across the river from D.C. makes it a perfect location for people who work there, while its seamless blend of urban areas and quiet, garden-lined streets, provide a fine balance between city life and “neighborhood charm.”
In addition, the index said Arlington’s talent base is high thanks to its many highly-educated residents while its diversity spreads across race, age and ethnicity. It also found that middle-income Arlingtonians spend less on transportation and housing than their national counterparts in most other counties.
“While job growth and investment are good indicators of a community’s progress, they are not enough,” the website reads. “Our continued experience has shown that our analysis must also look at factors that create a foundation for sustained success and resilience.”
The full top 10 for large-sized counties is as follows:
- Arlington County, Virginia
- Chesapeake, Virginia
- Shawnee County, Kansas
- Chittenden County, Vermont
- Pulaski County, Arkansas
- Albany County, New York
- Hampden County, Massachusetts
- Minnehaha County, South Dakota
- Peoria County, Illinois
- Champaign County, Illinois
To analyze counties, the index used data from the U.S. Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development among other sources. A total of 19 data areas are weighted and analyzed for the level of influence they have on a county.