May 26, 2010 3:55 PM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Colorado city makes a 'Best' list

Kiplinger's Personal Finance has named its 10 Best Cities for the Next Decade-with a focus on innovative thinking. The list includes Boulder, at #4.

Kiplinger's teamed with Martin Prosperity Institute, a think tank that studies economic prosperity. "New ideas generate new businesses," says Stolarick, who this year evaluated U.S. cities for growth and growth potential. "In the places where innovation works, it really works. People in fields such as science, engineering, architecture, and education are catalysts of vitality and livability in a city."

Here's Kiplinger's Best Cities of 2010:

1. Austin, TX-Arguably the country's best crucible for small business, Austin has spawned many companies with unique twists that have gone nationwide. The city's 200 live-music venues, lakes, parks, and funky businesses all contribute to its eclectic vibe.

2. Seattle, WA-Home to a well-educated workforce, a world-class research university, and innovators Amazon, Boeing, and Microsoft, Seattle crackles with creative energy. Also thriving is the life-sciences industry, a staple of the Seattle business scene, thanks to the University of Washington's billion-dollar-a-year research budget and a cluster of topflight medical and bioscience centers.

3. Washington, DC-The nation's capital is experiencing monumental growth. D.C. proper gained more new residents between July 2008 and July 2009 than in any other one-year period since World War II. Five large companies-Computer Sciences, Hilton Worldwide, Northrop Grumman, SAIC and Volkswagen North America-have recently relocated to the greater D.C. region. Only 11% of the D.C. population works directly for the federal government. That said, the Beltway is a hub for large defense contractors, such as General Dynamics and Northrop.

4. Boulder, CO-Boulder is an intellectual hot spot where environmental and scientific ideas blossom into businesses. Three economic drivers power the city: the University of Colorado, federal research laboratories and more than 6,600 small businesses and corporations, all woven into an entrepreneurial fabric.

5. Salt Lake City, UT-Home to the University of Utah, internationally recognized for its research in genetics and health sciences, Salt Lake City is a hotbed of new-business creation. Plus, the local talent pool is tops for its technical knowledge and outstanding work ethic. Utah's relatively low wages, taxes, and operating costs create an ideal haven to run a business-and you can't beat the easy access to myriad ski resorts.

6. Rochester, MN-Rochester is growing like a beanstalk with its high-tech, health-care, and hospitality industries. World-renowned research center and hospital The Mayo Clinic calls Rochester home, and the city has built on Mayo's rock-solid foundation. More than 20 technology-related firms have opened up in the area over the past ten years. Rochester also welcomes about 2.7 million visitors every year-pouring $520 million into the economy and supporting the city's hospitality industry.

7. Des Moines, IA-The city is making strides to lure back young Iowans and attract global talent by developing its downtown and promoting jobs available in the many industries that flourish there. Other big draws include low-cost housing, the city's reputation for family-friendliness, and easy commutes. Agricultural companies such as Pioneer Hi-Bred International create job opportunities as well as finance giant Wells Fargo and Meredith publishing.

8. Burlington, VT-Environmentalism isn't just ingrained in the city's diverse economy; it's the driver for much of its economic growth. Seventh Generation, maker of eco-friendly household products, is headquartered on Burlington's beautiful Lake Champlain waterfront. Outside the city, Green Mountain Power and Vermont Electric Cooperative are building a wind farm that will add jobs in the growing green sector. Plus, the town is a haven for writers and artists, and that innovative spirit energizes white-collar workers as well.

9. West Hartford, CT-This once-sleepy suburb of Connecticut's capital is transforming itself from a suburb into a destination-a regional destination for health care, shopping, and dining. And small business is the new game in town. West Hartford's economy rests largely on professional and health services, while retail makes up the rest of the local economy. Three years ago, the town doubled the size of West Hartford Center by adding a new mixed-use development of upscale retail stores and residences.

10. Topeka, KS-Topeka shines because of its low costs, great workforce, and easy access to any part of the country. As businesses around the country were downsizing in recent years, a number were expanding significantly in Topeka. Goodyear Tire and Rubber made the largest investment in the city's history: a $250-million facility. Locally-owned PT's Coffee Roasting Co. has flourished from a coffeehouse into a coffee bean-supplier to 200 retailers nationwide.

Click here to see the full report.




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