St. Cloud has been ranked #24 in Forbes magazine’s newest list of the best of 184 smaller cities in the nation for business and careers. Fargo, N.D. is tops this year, Mankato is third and Rochester is 23rd.
Minnesota is named by Forbes as #3 for the best state for the potential for people to make a decent living.
Congratulations are in order, especially since St. Cloud’s #24 ranking is 31 places higher than it was in the Forbes’ list in 2013. Forbes has been publishing this particular list annually since 1998.
Of course, none of this good news should come as a surprise to those who live and work here. After a miserable recession that began in 2008, it took awhile for St. Cloud to make a comeback, but that comeback is clearly underway. Job growth is up, unemployment is down and “For Hire” signs can be seen just about everywhere in this area.
Forbes’ rankings are based on factors that include job growth, income growth in the past five years, education and the presence of colleges, cultural and recreational activities, mobility patterns, projected growth and the cost of living.
It’s not just St. Cloud that deserves kudos for the impressive Forbes’ ranking. Surrounding cities are definitely part of this ongoing success story. St. Joseph, for example, is a big plus to the greater St. Cloud area because of its academic, cultural and economic bedrocks – the College of St. Benedict and nearby St. John’s University. In just the past few years, St. Joseph has experienced some exciting downtown developments right along main street that make the area a magnet for people far and wide, including that city’s hugely successful Millstream Arts Festival. St. Joseph has become one of the finest cities in the state for nurturing all of the arts – music, painting, pottery, poetry and more. The proximity of the colleges has much to do with that success.
Sartell, too, is a good example of the winning criteria on the Forbes survey, everything from job growth to quality education, from extraordinary health-care facilities to recreational and cultural activities via the city’s park development, made possible by innovative public-private partnerships, as well as the regional half-cent sales tax. Sartell’s and St. Joseph’s progressive successes are very much part of St. Cloud’s successes and vice versa.
St. Joseph and Sartell were often considered so-called “bedroom communities” at the edges of big St. Cloud, where people would come to go to work in the day and then return to their bedroom communities to sleep until the next work day. Sartell and St. Joseph are certainly bedroom communities no longer. Each city has a unique identity and dynamism, and plenty of St. Cloud residents, in fact, are going to work in those two cities.
Another reason for St. Cloud’s ranking in the Forbes Top 25 is the Greater St. Cloud Development Corp., now headed by Patti Gartland, former Sartell city administrator. That organization networks with area businesses, industries and movers-and-shakers to attract and retain businesses and to help create a positive climate, in all respects, for businesses to thrive. Those attractive factors include all of the criteria for the Forbes listings. The development corporation, in doing its work, benefits not just St. Cloud but other area cities in the most inclusive, mutually beneficial fashion.
Yet another reason for local success is the area planning meetings that take place with the cities’ mayors and council members. That kind of networking and cooperation ensures, generally, that what’s good for one is good for all.
And thus, all of the cities in the Greater St. Cloud area can take a bow for the excellent Forbes’ rating.