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University of Iowa News Release


March 19, 2007

Ranking Gives Iowa City High Marks For Job Opportunities, Affordability

Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa, has been ranked No. 5 in the nation on a list of top 10 best places to live and work. Dubuque is ranked No. 6.

Bert Sperling of "Sperling's Best Places" created the list for the MSN Real Estate Website. (View the list at Sperling chose places where the cost of living and unemployment rates are low, and where the job market is growing steadily.

The ranking lists Iowa City's unemployment rate as 2.7 percent and the five-year job growth rate at 13 percent. The median household income is listed as $47,000 and the median home price as $207,000.

The ranking summary describes Iowa City as a place that hasn't left its agricultural roots behind, but which has expanded its economic sector to include light manufacturing and high-tech and biotechnology businesses. According to the analysis, Iowa City "has one of the highest levels of educational attainment in the country," "feels progressive" and has a "lively cultural scene, a complete offering of goods and services, an attractive downtown and active community efforts."

The rankings came as no surprise to officials at the UI's IOWA Centers for Enterprise, which promotes economic development and technology transfer, provides assistance to startups and existing businesses in Iowa and is helping the state develop a creative, entrepreneurial workforce.

Tom Sharpe, associate vice president for economic development at the UI, said it makes sense that Iowa City's economy is thriving because "economic development is all about economic opportunity and quality of life, and Iowa City is an incredible place to live.

"Iowa City boasts a vibrant economy, the cost of living is very reasonable and the quality of life is outstanding," Sharpe said. "The UI brings a great deal to the community, including work opportunities, contributions to the arts and a medical center that is among the best in the world."

Dubuque's five-year job growth rate is listed as 12 percent, with an unemployment rate of 3.4 percent. The median income is listed as $46,000, with the median home price as $152,000. The analysis says that city's economy hinges on manufacturing plants such as John Deere. Dubuque is described as a small industrial town with "a beautiful historic core" including Victorian buildings along the Mississippi waterfront, and a new aquarium and convention center.

The analysis notes that both towns are isolated in terms of proximity to major cities, and that weather is erratic. It also says Dubuque lacks diversity.

The list also included the communities of Fayetteville, Mo./Sprindale-Rogers, Ark.; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Logan, Utah; Auburn-Opelika, Ala.; Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, Fla.; Blacksburg, Christiansburg-Radford, Va.; Huntsville, Ala. and Fargo, N.D.

For more on Sperling's Best Places, visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Nicole Riehl, 319-384-0070,;