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City Vitals and City Dividends were first developed by economist Joe Cortright of Impresa, Inc. and CEO + President Lee Fisher's predecessor, Carol Coletta, now VP/Community and National Initiatives for the Knight Foundation. With the expert assistance of our Senior Research Advisors, Dr. Ziona Austrian and Merissa C. Piazza and their team at the Center for Economic Development at Cleveland State University's Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, CEOs for Cities has expanded on the groundbreaking work. Visit ceosforcities.org/cityvitals for more information.
CITY VITALS 3.0
YOUR DISTINCTIVE CITY
Cleveland State University
Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs
Center for Economic Development
SENIOR RESEARCH ADVISORS FOR CEOS FOR CITIES:
ZIONA AUSTRIAN, PH.D. DIRECTOR
MERISSA C. PIAZZA, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE
NIKKI GLAZER, RESEARCH ASSISTANT
MARCUS NOTARO, RESEARCH ASSISTANT
CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY
MAXINE GOODMAN LEVIN COLLEGE OF URBAN AFFAIRS
CENTER FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
1717 EUCLID AVE. CLEVELAND, OHIO, 44115
Designed by Studio Graphique
TABLE OF CONTENTS
4 INTRODUCTION BY LEE FISHER:
ABOUT CEOS FOR CITIES
8 CITY VITALS INDICATORS
12 METROPOLITAN AREAS
15 THE CONNECTED CITY
18 COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
20 ECONOMIC INTEGRATION
22 TRANSIT USE
26 INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
28 FOREIGN TRAVEL
30 DATA TRANSFER SPEED
32 BROADBAND ADOPTION RATE
35 THE INNOVATIVE CITY
38 VENTURE CAPITAL
42 SMALL BUSINESS
45 THE TALENTED CITY
46 COLLEGE ATTAINMENT
48 CREATIVE PROFESSIONALS
50 YOUNG & RESTLESS
52 TRADED SECTOR TALENT
54 INTERNATIONAL TALENT
57 YOUR DISTINCTIVE CITY
58 WEIRDNESS INDEX
60 CULTURE/INTERNET RATIO
62 RESTAURANT VARIETY
64 INTERNET SEARCH VARIETY
67 CORE VITALITY
68 PER CAPITA INCOME
70 COLLEGE ATTAINMENT
75 METROPOLITAN PERFORMANCE
78 PER CAPITA INCOME
82 VEHICLE MILES TRAVELED
84 GREENHOUSE GASES
87 CHANGES FROM CITY VITALS 2.0
88 VARIABLE NAMES AND SOURCES
115 SELECTED CEOS FOR CITIES RESEARCH
ABOUT CEOS FOR CITIES
At a time when cities and metro regions have become the economic engines of
the nation and when the most valuable currency of the new economy is knowledge
and ideas, cities must be constantly learning, sharing, and reinventing. No city lacks
talent and ideas, but almost every city lacks a vehicle for regularly connecting with
talent and ideas outside their own city and a cross-sector vehicle and framework for
mobilizing, accelerating, and sustaining action on important goals in their city.
The world is moving increasingly fast, resources are increasingly scarce,
and challenges are increasingly complex. As a result, the collective impact of
leaders from multiple sectors working together to advance city success never
has been more essential. None of us is as smart as all of us, and no one sector,
discipline, or generation can create sustainable change alone. Sustainable
change happens when leaders from different sectors come together to share
a vision for change that includes a common understanding and framework for
addressing the challenges and opportunities facing their city. Too often, each
sector and profession is its own audience, working inside an echo chamber and
operating within a narrow frame.
CEOs for Cities is a cross-sector city success learning and action network.
We connect cross-sector leaders with each other and with the smartest ideas
and practices for moving the needle on the four key dimensions of city success
— Connections, Innovation, Talent, and Your distinctive assets.
We are “civic CEOs”- rather than be self-limited by our name, our inclusive
definition of “CEO” honors urban leadership where it happens, regardless
of rank, title, or sector. We’re not just Chief Executive Officers. Think Chief
Entrepreneurial Officers, Chief Experience Officers, Chief Education Officers,
Chief Economic Officers, etc.
We believe that given the complex, interconnected problems that cities and regions
face, it is critical to first research, frame, and organize work that puts a focusing lens
on cities and regions, and helps to see and understand the critical levers for their
success. We believe that framing is critically important, because, as Wayne Dyer has
noted, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” (Dyer,
We believe that the cities that will succeed in the new networked economy
are those that:
• make their boundaries porous to new ideas and talent;
• demonstrate the humility to understand that there is always something
more to learn from other cities;
• approach their challenges and opportunities with a clear framework;
• set measurable, actionable, achievable goals; and
• harness collective cross-sector energy to chart a well-informed,
collaborative, accelerated path to success.
There is no shortage of theories about the secret sauce for city success. Some
experts argue that geography matters more than ever and success depends on physical
capital and authentic placemaking. Others submit that in a knowledge economy, cities
must build human capital and creative talent. Some insist that social capital and
economic opportunity ultimately define the soul of a city. Still others predict that the
future city is about smart digital capital and harnessing the power of technology.
Each of these theories alone is wrong. A successful city must have all of
Cities succeed because they are well-connected, both internally and to the wider
world, because they are fertile places for innovation and entrepreneurship, because
they nurture, retain, and attract talent, and because each invests in its own distinctive
characteristics and strengths. Economic growth and development is about linking
and leveraging a city’s distinctive assets of people, place, and opportunity.
OUR FOUR CORE ELEMENTS
Although this report focuses only on City Vitals, our work is best understood
as having four core elements:
• We curate smart ideas and benchmark city success through our City Vitals.
• We connect cross-sector leaders through our network of City Clusters.
• We catalyze collaborative change through our City Dividends.
• We accelerate progress through our Dividend Prize Challenges.
A CEOs for Cities City Cluster is a group of cross-sector, cross-generation
leaders who join the CEOs for Cities network together as a team. It is a vehicle
for regularly connecting cross-sector leaders and ideas between cities, and
focusing and accelerating cross-sector work on issues of high importance to your
city. The Cluster model helps cities maximize the impact of ongoing local and
regional initiatives and enables faster adoption of innovation and the intentional
cross-fertilization of ideas within and between cities.
We provide the national platform for City Clusters to connect with each other to
share successes, challenges, and lessons learned and the latest cutting-edge
ideas and practices for city success through our webinars, newsletter, and website.
Participating in our workshops and national meetings as a group significantly
enhances the chances that you’ll do something with what you learned and explore
ways to take some new ideas and customize them to your city.
A City Dividend is the return on investment for achieving a targeted,
measurable, actionable goal toward your city’s economic success. City Dividends
are premised on our research and experience that measurable progress, or
“moving the needle,” on targeted work can reap huge economic growth dividends
for cities, and accelerate and sustain movement on important goals. This theory
of action is based on what Harvard Professor Teresa Amabile calls the “progress
principle”- the single most important motivator and catalyst of positive action is
making progress and showing forward momentum in meaningful work. Small
but regular “wins” have a cumulative increase, and can trigger much bigger
reactions. (Amabile & Kramer, 2011).
We have developed four City Dividends – the Talent, Green, Opportunity, and
Health/Diabetes Dividends, and are developing more. Each dividend reflects one
small change that leads to a big economic dividend.
• The Talent Dividend: A one percentage-point increase in the four-year
college attainment rate for the population aged 25 and older in the 51
largest U.S. metropolitan areas means, on average, a $974 increase in
annual per capita income for the metropolitan area, totaling an increase
of $111 billion for the 51 largest metro areas.
• The Green Dividend: If we can reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled
per person per day in the 51 largest U.S. metro areas by one mile, these
regions would save $35 billion in fuel and the expense of purchasing and
• The Opportunity Dividend: A one percentage-point reduction in poverty
in the nation’s 51 largest metro areas means government savings of $31
billion per year – as each additional person in poverty is associated with, on
average, over $18,000 in antipoverty expenditures in a metropolitan area.
• The Health/ Diabetes Dividend: A one percentage point decrease in the
diabetic population in the nation’s 51 largest metro areas means a savings
in medical and other costs, on average, of $1,070 for each person in the
metropolitan area, totaling an economic savings of $1.2 billion per year in
the largest 51 metro areas.
DIVIDEND PRIZE CHALLENGES
CEOs for Cities’ highly successful $1 million Talent Dividend Prize, funded
by the Kresge and Lumina Foundations in partnership with Living Cities, helped
to catalyze, motivate, and accelerate work on the goal of college completion in
57 American cities competing to achieve the greatest increase in college degree
completion over a three-year period.
That’s why we launched the City Dividend Prize Challenge. We have found
that a city dividend, powered by a prize challenge, can be a strong catalyst for
convening stakeholders from different sectors around a common agenda and set
of metrics for addressing an important challenge. The Prize Challenge provides
a powerful incentive to achieve a targeted city dividend and accelerates progress
by shining a bright light on the opportunity.
CITY VITALS 3.0
City Vitals and City Dividends were first developed by economist Joe Cortright of
Impresa, Inc. and my predecessor, Carol Coletta, now VP/Community and National
Initiatives for the Knight Foundation. With the expert assistance of our Senior
Research Advisors, Dr. Ziona Austrian and Merissa C. Piazza and their team at the
Center for Economic Development at Cleveland State University’s Maxine Goodman
Levin College of Urban Affairs, we have expanded on their groundbreaking work.
The four letters that make up the word ‘city’ spell out the genetic code of urban
success: Connections, Innovation, Talent, and Your distinctiveness. Using 30 different
indicators, we analyze these four key dimensions to economic success in the 130
largest metropolitan areas of the United States. These are what we call City Vitals.
EVERY CITY MUST ASK THESE FOUR CRITICAL QUESTIONS:
1. Connected City: How do we connect our physical, human, social, and
2. Innovative City: How do we foster a culture and ecosystem of innovation
3. Talented City: How do we educate, develop, retain, attract, train, employ,
and deploy our talent?
4. Your Distinctive City: How do we find our authentic voice? Our DNA? How do
we link and leverage our distinctive assets of people, place, and opportunity?
We know that there is no one recipe for success, no single path for cities to
follow. As CEOs for Cities argued in our research report City Success: Theories
of Urban Prosperity, city leaders ought to think about elements of success as
an artist would view a color palette. Each city is different and needs a different
blend. It’s not enough simply to check boxes off a checklist.
We understand that data are only a piece of the city success story. There are, as
is often the case, limitations to the data. It has become fashionable to rate and rank
cities as most livable or best for business or best for some activity or demographic
group. High rankings are a source for celebration and marketing. Low rankings tend
to be disputed or ignored. It is important to note that we have not made any attempt
to add these various measures together to generate some overall ranking. Such
combinations, in our opinion, are arbitrary and frequently obscure useful information
rather than reveal insights.
City Vitals 3.0 is not a collection of “best and worst of” lists. It is not a set of value
judgments. It is certainly not intended to be viewed in a vacuum. Each metropolitan
region is different, and can reasonably expect to have different opportunities and
challenges than other metropolitan areas.
The intent of our research is to provide a set of tools for exploring the
performance of your city and metro region. We have compiled data in each of
these four key areas of city success to illuminate and better define the discussion
of what it takes to build a successful city and metropolitan economy.
The future belongs to those cities and regions who can frame their
opportunities and challenges, act in ways that demonstrate measurable progress,
and connect and collaborate with the smartest people and the smartest ideas in
the most places and in the most ways.
City Vitals is an important component of our mission to, in the words of Steve
Jobs, “…tear down walls, build bridges, and light fires” (Jobs, 2011).
President and CEO
CEOs for Cities
THE CITY VITALS INDICATORS
The Connected City
As Edward Glaeser notes in Triumph of the City “…
our ability to connect with each other is the defining
characteristic of our species.” We know that cities thrive
as places where people can live, work, play, and connect.
Jane Jacobs, in The Death and Life of Great American
Cities, likened the art form of a city to “an intricate ballet
in which the individual dancers and ensembles all have
distinctive parts which miraculously reinforce each other
and compose an orderly whole.”
It is through these connections that regions prosper.
Internal connections among residents and firms, and
external connections with the global economy are essential
for a city’s prosperity and vitality. There are numerous
ways cities connect, from physical connections (roads,
airports, railroad), to virtual connections, to interpersonal
connections. We measure the Connected City by examining
voter participation, community involvement, economic
integration, transit use, walkability, foreign students,
foreign travel, and internet connectivity.
T he Innovative City
Innovation and generation of new ideas play
an important role in regional economic growth and
prosperity. Many factors, including but not limited to the
aggregation of talent, clusters of innovative firms, key
research institutions, and a business and social culture
amenable to change and risk-taking, have been found to
be correlated with a city/region’s potential for generating
new ideas. Regional competitiveness is based on the fact
that generating new ideas is not evenly distributed across
space. Invisible and weightless, ideas cannot be measured
directly, but the footprints they leave in the economic
landscape can be traced by measuring the number of
patents, the amount of venture capital, the number of the
self-employed, and the number of small businesses.
The Talented City
As Ed Glaeser notes in Trumph of the City, “all
great cities have something in common…(they) attract
smart people and help them to work collaboratively.”
The indispensable asset in a knowledge-based
economy is human capital—especially a region’s ability
to grow, retain, and attract a well-educated, skilled
workforce. The Great Recession has underscored the
importance of talent to economic success. Better-educated
metropolitan areas saw smaller increases in
unemployment in the depths of the recession, and most
of the job growth in the recovery has been among better-educated
workers. The relationship between higher
education and income also holds for cities. Many cities
with a more-educated workforce have higher personal
income while a lower personal income is often correlated
with a less-educated workforce. We measure the Talented
City by analyzing college attainment, abundance of creative
professionals, percentage of the population that is young
and well-educated (young and the restless), size of the
private sector workforce, and international talent.
CEOs for Cities works with cross-sector urban leaders
and policy makers to benchmark and accelerate their city’s
and region’s economic performance. In order to measure
metropolitan performance, we present five measures that
reflect the four dimensions of success outlined in City
Vitals; these dimensions are connections, innovations,
talent, and your distinctiveness. The five performance
measures included in Metropolitan Performance are
population, per capita income, poverty rates, vehicle miles
traveled, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Your Distinctive City
The unique characteristics of place may be the only
truly defensible source of regional competitive advantage.
While globalization has allowed regions to connect more
frequently and efficiently with faraway places, regions
understand that it is important to be unique, distinctive,
and authentic while maintaining a global presence.
Regions that create their own distinctively authentic cities
and identities create a sense of place and a brand that
can transcend their own advocacy efforts. As Dolly Parton
notes, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose” (Parton,
n.d.). There are many dimensions to distinctiveness and
each city has its own set of unique characteristics, so it
may be difficult to compare adequately metropolitan areas
and cities on distinctiveness. We measure the Distinctive
City using four indicators: the weirdness index, culture,
internet search variety, and ethnic restaurant options.
The success of a regional economy heavily depends
on the vitality of its urban core or central city. Vibrant
metropolitan areas have strong centers that are hubs of
economic, social, cultural, and recreational activities.
Strong cities attract talent, foster creativity and innovation,
and appeal to business startups. Conversely, metropolitan
areas with weak central cities have lower economic
performance. An assessment of the vitality of the urban
core is conducted by analyzing a series of measurements
illustrating the performance of the core. Here, we define
the urban core as the central city as defined by the U.S.
Census Bureau Principal City. We use three performance
indicators to measure Core Vitality: income, college
attainment, and poverty.
CEOs for Cities has identified four essential characteristics that underlie
economic prosperity. In a sense, the four letters that make up the word “city’’
spell out the genetic code of city and regional economic success: Connections,
Innovation, Talent, and Your Distinctiveness. City Vitals 3.0 contains 30 variables for
the 130 largest metropolitan areas in the United States that define the four areas
of a city’s performance—connections, innovation, talent, and your distinctiveness.
Our analysis recognizes that there are limitations to the data and that there
is no one recipe for success, so we purposely avoid any overall ranking from best
to worst. As Albert Einstein said “Not everything that can be counted counts, and
not everything that counts can be counted” (as quoted in Kaufmann, 2003: 5).
However, these data do provide a means for cities and regions to assess certain
relative strengths and weaknesses against their peers nationally. City Vitals 3.0
is a benchmarking tool for practitioners, policy makers, city leadership, and
engaged citizens to monitor the economic performance of their city and region
and engage in “intelligent benchmarking” - comparing oneself to others to
provide support for investment and policy decisions (Malecki, 2007).
More and more metropolitan areas are becoming the change makers for
economic and social change in the United States. With more people living in
cities and metro regions than ever before, municipal governments have unique
leverage to change positively their regions and citizens’ lives. In their book,
Metropolitan Revolution, Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley note that with the U.S.
government entrenched in disagreement and dysfunction, regions are at the
forefront of innovation and connectivity with each other and the globe. They go on
to emphasize that metropolitan areas can be economic players, innovate locally,
network globally, and advocate nationally. City Vitals 3.0 honors and highlights
the performance and importance of our nation’s metropolitan regions and their
cities through their connections, innovations, talent, and distinctiveness. By
ascertaining what is important to your community and evaluating it through
metrics, regions can “move the needle” and create a better, more prosperous
region – however defined.
Variables are computed at the city or metropolitan level, where available.
These 130 metropolitan areas are regions that have a population greater than
400,000. For more information on the methodology and how City Vitals 3.0 differs
from City Vitals 2.0, see the Appendix.
LARGEST 130 METROPOLITAN AREAS Akron, OH
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA
Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC
Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX
Baton Rouge, LA
Boise City-Nampa, ID
Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL
Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, SC
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC
Colorado Springs, CO
Corpus Christi, TX
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA
Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
El Paso, TX
Fort Wayne, IN
Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI
Greensboro-High Point, NC
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX
Kansas City, MO-KS
Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, TX
Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL
Lansing-East Lansing, MI
Las Vegas-Paradise, NV
Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
New Haven-Milford, CT
New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA
New York-N. New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA
North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, FL
Oklahoma City, OK
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL
Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL
Port St. Lucie, FL
Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, ME
Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
Salt Lake City, UT
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, CA
Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA
Shreveport-Bossier City, LA
St. Louis, MO-IL
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC
For the reader’s convenience, this appendix includes a discussion on the changes
from City Vitals 2.0, and a list of the variable names and data sources used in City
Vitals 3.0. The appendix also provides all of the data in each of our City Vitals
indicators grouped according to each of the four dimensions—connections,
innovation, talent, your distinctiveness—plus core vitality and metropolitan
performance. Cities are listed alphabetically so the reader can easily identify
data for individual cities.
CHANGES FROM CITY VITALS 2.0
This is the third iteration of City Vitals. The first report published in 2006 and the
second in 2012, both identified trends in the largest 51 metropolitan areas (Cortright,
2006; Cortright, 2012). This report extended the list of metro areas to include the 130
largest metro areas in the nation. These 130 metropolitan areas are regions that have
a population greater than 400,000 based upon the 2010 Decennial Census Population.
This report uses the most recent data available for the metropolitan areas. In addition,
City Vitals 3.0 has an additional variable raising the total variables (also referred to as
indicators) to 30. Caution is required when comparing City Vitals 2.0 to City Vitals 3.0
since some of the metropolitan geographic boundaries may have changed.
We used the same data sources in City Vitals 3.0 as were used in City Vitals 2.0. For
almost all variables, we updated the data to incorporate the most current year available
and to extend the cohort to 130 metro areas. Due to problems with data availability, data
sources were changed from City Vitals 2.0 for Internet Connectivity, Venture Capital, and
Restaurant Variety. JiWire, the source used for internet connectivity of Wi-Fi hotspots
in City Vitals 2.0 was no longer available; therefore, Net Index was used to compare
metropolitan internet download speeds. The variable, Broadband, was added to City
Vitals 3.0 (making the new total 30 variables) to measure a metropolitan area’s broadband
adoption rate. Moreover, in City Vitals 3.0 we modified the Culture/HDTV Ratio variable
used in City Vitals 2.0 to Culture/Internet Ratio since the variable “households that have a
high definition television receiver” was no longer published by SRDS.
The Core Vitality section is based upon the principal city as defined by the U.S.
Census Bureau in this document, rather than the computational method used in City
Vitals 2.0, which used a 3-mile area around the central business district, using the
Geographic Information System (GIS)
The unit of analysis for most variables is that of the metropolitan area.
Metropolitan areas are defined as Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and are
geographically delineated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)2.
The variable Vehicle Miles Traveled is based on Federal-Aid Urban Areas
(FAUA)3, which feature boundaries different from those used in MSAs. FAUAs
are comprised of only urban areas, while MSAs follow county lines, which include
both urban and rural areas. A conversion method was developed to match FAUAs
to MSAs as closely as possible, but it is important to note that the regions are not
an exact match, and many rural areas found within MSA counties are not factored
into the average daily vehicle miles of travel. For continuity, the MSA names are
still used when describing the Green Dividend.
Data from SRDS (variables: foreign travel, weirdness index, and culture/
internet ratio) and Scarborough Research (variable: community involvement) are
only available by Designated Market Area (DMA) rather than the metropolitan
area. DMAs are a geographic area used by market research firms to define a media
market. These areas are geographically larger than metro areas; therefore, some
metro areas have the same value because they are located in the same DMA.
2 MSAs are associated with at least one urbanized area with a population of at least 50,000, comprised of the central
county/counties (or equivalent entities) containing the core, plus adjacent, outlying counties having a high degree
of social and economic integration with the central county/counties as measured through commuting. For more
3 FAUAs are adjusted urban area boundaries allowed for transportation purposes. These boundaries extend US Census
Bureau Urbanized Area and Urban Cluster boundaries outward, which include, at a minimum, 2,500 persons with a
population density. For more information: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/processes/statewide/related/highway_