This week, I want to highlight some of the areas where Nebraska's continued success is generating national attention for our cities and the state.
Nebraska moved up in the most recent Forbes scoring of the 'Best States for Business.' The low cost of doing business and the quality of life factors increased Nebraska's ranking to ninth in 2009.
Throughout 2009, Nebraska was noted as one of the best performers for low economic stress. A look at the state debt and economic prospects of all U.S. states released this year ranked Nebraska third in terms of fiscal fitness. Analysts said this positive news was due to strong credit ratings, low public debt levels and low unemployment rates. Nebraska's fiscal fitness was helped by gains made in job and income growth, an increase in gross statewide economic production and population growth.
Nebraska cities have been recognized for weathering the tough economic times and for offering residents some of the best quality of life factors in the nation. While most states would have been thrilled to have a community listed on the CNN Money list of the Top 10 'Best Places to Live in America' for jobs, Nebraska has three counties that made the list which were Platte, Sarpy and Madison Counties.
Omaha was the top metropolitan area in a Forbes list of 'America's Best Bang-For-The-Buck Cities' in 2009. Solid housing markets, stable employment, a low cost of living and quick commutes helped generate the list of top 100 metropolitan areas for the country's most affordable places to live.
Lincoln made the top five in a 2009 list issued by Forbes on the 'Best Places for Business and Careers.' Kearney was included in Business Week's analysis of 50 dynamic small cities for start-ups. A local CEO and entrepreneur noted the diversity of Kearney's business community was a factor that helped stabilize the local economy and created a good environment for start-up companies.
The Siouxland region, including South Sioux City and nearby South Dakota and Iowa communities, was named the top metropolitan area of its size for economic development potential by Site Selection magazine for the second year in a row. In the latest ranking, the region placed second for development potential.
Hamilton County was named the best rural community to live in the United States by AOL's personal and consumer finance website. The website chose Hamilton County saying, "This is corn and soybean country ... and the folks of Hamilton County do their best to make sure the bounty they produce stays here."
Hamilton County was also recognized as the 'Best Place to Raise a Family' by Progressive Farmer magazine. In addition to fertile farmland, editors were impressed by the strong leadership programs for young people and a broad base of community foundations that have invested in local priorities by providing private funding to build libraries and community centers rather than relying on public funding.
Papillion placed third among small cities on Money magazine's review of the 'Best Place to Live' last year. Papillion has made a steady climb, moving up from 23rd in 2005 to sixth place in 2007 to third place in 2009.
The effort to keep taxes low, improve local infrastructure, and create new jobs in these and many other Nebraska communities have helped our state receive national recognition. We know that Nebraska is a great place to live, to work, and to raise a family. This attention is helping others recognize the opportunities Nebraska has to offer.