SALT LAKE CITY — The nation's business and jobs mecca is located in Utah County, according to one of the country's top business publications.
This week, Forbes released its 14th annual "Best Place for Business and Careers," listing Provo ahead of Raleigh, N.C., and Fort Collins, Colo. Last year’s top city, Raleigh, N.C., dipped to No. 2 as living costs climbed to 5 percent above the national average.
Also cracking the top 10 was Ogden at No. 6, with Salt Lake City coming in at No. 24 on the list of the top metro areas nationwide.
Provo's $16 billion economy was bolstered by Brigham Young University — the third-largest private college by enrollment in the nation. In 2010, the school ranked behind only the University of Utah and MIT in the number of start-up companies produced through university research.
Forbes said Provo also enjoyed the third best job growth in the country last year at 3 percent, as well as the lowest violent crime rate in the U.S. The city also had the tenth lowest overall crime rate nationally, with a population that has doubled in the past 20 years.
"This is clearly a satisfying ranking, an indication that we are doing a good job," Provo Mayor John Curtis said. He said Provo has been among the highest-ranking cities in this survey for several years, but this is the first time at the top of the list.
Curtis said Provo's concerted effort at job growth and long-term economic sustainability has helped the city remain among the nation's business-friendly elite.
"For a long time, it's been a well-kept secret that this is just a fabulous place to live and work," he said. "We want to keep attracting good, solid businesses with high-paying jobs."
He said that maintaining a high quality of life and building the necessary infrastructure to accommodate anticipated growth will also be high priority issues.
Joining Provo in the top 10 was sixth ranked Ogden, which last year welcomed Procter & Gamble's first U.S. manufacturing plant in more than 30 years. The $540 million facility is expected to create 1,000 jobs. Median household incomes in Ogden were a robust $60,625, the report stated.
The publication looked at the 200 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the U.S. ranging in size from the New York City area at just under 12 million people to Bremerton, Wash. — with a population of about 252,000 people.
Forbes considered a dozen metrics relating to job growth, business and living costs, income growth over the past five years, educational attainment and projected economic growth through 2014. Other factors included were quality of life, crime rates, cultural and recreational opportunities, net migration patterns and the number of highly ranked colleges in an area.
Visit www.forbes.com/best-places-for-business/list/ for more information on the rankings.