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USA

Page history last edited by Brian D Butler 9 years, 4 months ago

Map - comparing states to countries

 

 

 

 

USA History

 

American History


 

The French and Indian War (1754-1763)

Pre-Revolutionary America (1763-1776)

The American Revolution (1754–1781)

The Declaration of Independence (1776)

Building the State (1781-1797)

The Articles of Confederation (1781-1789)

The Constitution (1781–1815)

The Federalist Papers (1787-1789)

The First Years of the Union (1797-1809)

Westward Expansion (1807-1912)

The War of 1812 (1809-1815)

The Pre-Civil War Era (1815–1850)

The Civil War 1850–1865

Reconstruction (1865–1877)

The Gilded Age & the Progressive Era (1877–1917)

The Spanish American War (1898-1901)

World War I (1914–1919)

The Interwar Years (1919-1938)

The Great Depression (1920–1940)

World War II (1939–1945)

The Cold War (1945–1963)

The Korean War (1950-1953)

The Civil Rights Era (1865–1970)

The Vietnam War (1945-1975)

 

American Government


Introduction to American Government

American Political Culture

The Founding and the Constitution

Federalism

Congress

The Presidency

The Bureaucracy

The Judiciary

Political Parties

Interest Groups

The Media

The Political Process

Civil Liberties and Civil Rights

Public Policy

Foreign Policy

Political Science


Introduction to Political Science

Politics and Political Science

Political Ideologies and Styles

Nations and States

Political Economy

Political Culture and Public Opinion

International Politics

Glossary


U.S. Government and Politics Glossary

 

 

 

Understanding Americans

To Really understand the USA, and Americans... you must first read and understand the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights --

 

"the Declaration of independence... asserting certain natural rights, including a right of revolution.  Its stature grew over the years, particularly the second sentence, a sweeping statement of human rights:

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

 

This sentence has been called "one of the best-known sentences in the English language"[2] and "the most potent and consequential words in American history".[3] The passage has often been used to promote the rights of marginalized groups, and came to represent for many people a moral standard for which the United States should strive. This view was greatly influenced by Abraham Lincoln, who considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy,[4] and promoted the idea that the Declaration is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted.

 

Lincoln and the Declaration

The Declaration's relationship to slavery was taken up in 1854 by Abraham Lincoln, a little-known former Congressman who idolized the Founding Fathers.[171] Lincoln thought that the Declaration of Independence expressed the highest principles of the American Revolution, and that the Founding Fathers had tolerated slavery with the expectation that it would ultimately wither away.[172] For the United States to legitimize the expansion of slavery in the Kansas-Nebraska Act, thought Lincoln, was to repudiate the principles of the Revolution. In his October 1854 Peoria speech, Lincoln said:

 

Nearly eighty years ago we began by declaring that all men are created equal; but now from that beginning we have run down to the other declaration, that for some men to enslave others is a "sacred right of self-government." ... Our republican robe is soiled and trailed in the dust. Let us repurify it. ... Let us re-adopt the Declaration of Independence, and with it, the practices, and policy, which harmonize with it. ... If we do this, we shall not only have saved the Union: but we shall have saved it, as to make, and keep it, forever worthy of the saving.[173]

 

The meaning of the Declaration was a recurring topic in the famed debates between Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in 1858. Douglas argued that "all men are created equal" in the Declaration referred to white men only. The purpose of the Declaration, he said, had simply been to justify the independence of the United States, and not to proclaim the equality of any "inferior or degraded race".[174] Lincoln, however, thought that the language of the Declaration was deliberately universal, setting a high moral standard for which the American republic should aspire. "I had thought the Declaration contemplated the progressive improvement in the condition of all men everywhere", he said.[175] According to Pauline Maier, Douglas's interpretation was more historically accurate, but Lincoln's view ultimately prevailed. "In Lincoln's hands", wrote Maier, "the Declaration of Independence became first and foremost a living document" with "a set of goals to be realized over time".[176]

[T]here is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I hold that he is as much entitled to these as the white man.
—Abraham Lincoln, 1858[177]

 

Like Daniel Webster, James Wilson, and Joseph Story before him, Lincoln argued that the Declaration of Independence was a founding document of the United States, and that this had important implications for interpreting the Constitution, which had been ratified more than a decade after the Declaration.[178] Although the Constitution did not use the word "equality", Lincoln believed that the Declaration's "all men are created equal" remained a part of the nation's founding principles.[179] He famously expressed this belief in the opening sentence of his 1863 Gettysburg Address: "Four score and seven years ago [i.e. in 1776] our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

 

Lincoln's view of the Declaration as a moral guide to interpreting the Constitution became influential. "For most people now," wrote Garry Wills in 1992, "the Declaration means what Lincoln told us it means, as a way of correcting the Constitution itself without overthrowing it."[180] Admirers of Lincoln, such as Harry V. Jaffa, praised this development. Critics of Lincoln, notably Willmoore Kendall and Mel Bradford, argued that Lincoln dangerously expanded the scope of the national government, and violated states' rights, by reading the Declaration into the Constitution.[181]

 

Table of Contents


 

Economy Overview

 

The US has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $43,500. In this market-oriented economy, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions, and the federal and state governments buy needed goods and services predominantly in the private marketplace. US business firms enjoy greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products. At the same time, they face higher barriers to enter their rivals' home markets than foreign firms face entering US markets. US firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers and in medical, aerospace, and military equipment; their advantage has narrowed since the end of World War II. The onrush of technology largely explains the gradual development of a "two-tier labor market" in which those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. The response to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 showed the remarkable resilience of the economy. The war in March-April 2003 between a US-led coalition and Iraq, and the subsequent occupation of Iraq, required major shifts in national resources to the military. The rise in GDP in 2004-06 was undergirded by substantial gains in labor productivity. Hurricane Katrina caused extensive damage in the Gulf Coast region in August 2005, but had a small impact on overall GDP growth for the year. Soaring oil prices in 2005 and 2006 threatened inflation and unemployment, yet the economy continued to grow through year-end 2006. Imported oil accounts for about two-thirds of US consumption. Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable trade and budget deficits, and stagnation of family income in the lower economic groups. The merchandise trade deficit reached a record $750 billion in 2006.

 

Data:

USA Balance of payments

 

The US model = keep a current account deficit, and finance the gap with foreign investments, to keep the overall balance of payments in balance.  This has worked well for the US over the past 30 years.  Should countries such as Mexico do the same thing?  Is this a model for success for others to follow?  Not necessarily.  This "business model" only works as long as foreigners have a very high level of confidence in your currency.  If they loose confidence in your stability, or growth, then they will no longer demand your investments, and the model breaks down.   Warning to the USA:  don't do things to destroy foreign confidence in your country.  If you loose that advantage, then you will loose your capital account surplus.  If you loose the capital account surplus, then you will also loose your ability to run a current account deficit, ending imports. (for more discussion, visit: balance of payments ).

 

Can the USA continue running such a large current account deficit?

 

There is a lot of debate in this area.  The key is "confidence". As long as the world continues to show confidence in the US, then it will continue to be desirable for foreign investment.  Foreigners will want to purchase US treasury bonds because they are seen as "risk free investments". 

 

As China and India continue to open up their economies, they will need to meet the pent-up demand of their citizens to invest money out of the countries.  Much of this investment will likely go to the USA (as long as confidence remains high).  With this happening, it is possible that the US could run a current account deficit for the next 30+ years (as they have done for the past 30 years) without much problem.  As it currently stands, Indian and Chinese consumers have very limited ability to invest overseas.  Some economists predict that as their economies open up, that we should see increased demand for US investments.   As long as the US is able to run a capital account surplus, then they should have no trouble maintaining the current account deficit.  This balance should be fed by India / China for many years to come. 

 

 

 

Imports and Exports

Major export destinations2007 Share (%)Major import sources2007 Share (%)
Europe 27.8 Asia-Pacific 34.6
 
Asia-Pacific 22.7 Europe 22.7
 
North America 21.7 Latin America 17.5
 
Latin America 20.5 North America 16.4
 
Africa and the Middle East 5.3 Africa and the Middle East 8.2
 
Australasia 1.9 Australasia 0.6

 

 

  • exports are very important to the US economy, and account for 25% of farm output, 16% of manufacturing output, and 25% of all US bonds that are sold over seas

 

 

Main industries

 

Agriculture accounts for just 1.0% of GDP and is predominately large scale and generally efficient. The USA is a major exporter of foodstuffs and processed foods.

 

The country's manufacturing sector contributes 12.1% of GDP and leads the way in the information technology revolution. Prominent industries include aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, electronics and computers.

 

 

Energy

 

The USA has 21.8 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, the eleventh highest in the world. Production of crude oil in the lower 48 states has been falling since 2004. The USA also has estimated proven natural gas reserves of 204 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), or 3% of world reserves (6th in the world). Natural gas accounts for about 24% of total primary energy requirements. Domestic oil exploration and development spending by US oil companies has rebounded as oil prices rise. Overall, production from deepwater areas of the Gulf of Mexico has been increasing rapidly, with deepwater wells accounting for about two-thirds of total US Gulf output. However, refinery capacity has risen much slower than demand.

 

Labor Mobility

 

The USA is highly competive against other countries (and economic blocs) because of its high labor mobility.  If you graduate from college in Ohio, and get offered a job in Chicago or in Orlando, Florida, (or in Silicon Valley California), its likely that you will move based on which job is better.  If a factory closes in Pittsburgh, people move to where the next jobs are.  This is quite a bit different than in Europe, where people are not likely to move to Spain if a factory closes in Germany. 

 

 

Politics

 

USA Republican Party  - in recent times, it has been defined by the "Regan coalition", a mix of (a) social conservatives, (b) defence conservatives, and (c) anti-tax conservatives...their main policy objectives have been = less government, traditional values, and strong defence.  In recent times (especially under President Bush), we have seen a breaking of this coalition as Bush has gone into heavy public spending and angered many of the business conservatives.  Whether the party can be reunited remains to be seen.

 

 

 

History

 

Britain's American colonies broke with the mother country in 1776 and were recognized as the new nation of the United States of America following the Treaty of Paris in 1783. During the 19th and 20th centuries, 37 new states were added to the original 13 as the nation expanded across the North American continent and acquired a number of overseas possessions. The two most traumatic experiences in the nation's history were the Civil War (1861-65) and the Great Depression of the 1930s. Buoyed by victories in World Wars I and II and the end of the Cold War in 1991, the US remains the world's most powerful nation state. The economy is marked by steady growth, low unemployment and inflation, and rapid advances in technology.

 

 

Economy History

 

List of USA recessions

 

early 1980s recession USA

 

 

 

 

Geography

 

Relative size: about half the size of Russia; about three-tenths the size of Africa; about half the size of South America (or slightly larger than Brazil); slightly larger than China; more than twice the size of the European Union

 

 

 

 

 

 

Competitive DIS - Advantages

 

High corporate tax rates may be driving corporations away from the USA.

 

see main article from the Economist

 

 

Following the Tax Reform Act of 1986, the base of the corporate income tax was broadened but the top rate was slashed by 12 percentage points, from 46% to 34%, the biggest cut since the tax was introduced in 1909. Thus began a trend of reducing the tax rate on companies that has spread across the globe. However, whilst countries from Ireland (with a rate of 13%) to China—which recently passed a law cutting the rate to 25%—have continued to lower corporate taxes, American rates have edged back up, to 35%, in 1993. Adding state taxes to federal ones gives an overall rate of 39%. That is the second highest in the OECD, in which the average rate is 31% (see chart).

 

 

In a world of multinational firms and mobile capital, tax rates can make a significant difference to where profits are recorded and business is done, though economists disagree on how much. Governments outside America have long worried that competition between countries to attract international businesses creates pressure to lower corporate tax rates. America is now belatedly starting to agree with them.

 

If headline tax rates were all that mattered, America would be an unattractive place for companies to locate. In fact, tax is not the only thing firms take into account when deciding where to locate. And companies care less about the official tax rate than what they actually pay after taking into account the various allowances and breaks that countries offer. Ranked by this “effective marginal tax rate”, America lags behind by less, though its rate of 24% is well above the OECD average of 20%.

 

The big gap between the headline and effective marginal tax rates reflects the large number of allowances given to firms for doing particular activities, such as research and development. Many of these allowances are fiendishly complicated; they distort business decisions and raise the cost of tax compliance.

 

The Treasury is also worried about another big distortion caused by the corporate tax system—the incentive it gives to use debt rather than equity finance. Equity capital is subject to double taxation. It is taxed first when the company declares a profit, and again when it is paid to shareholders as dividends or capital gains. Money paid out by the firm as interest is taxed only once, as income to the investors who receive the interest.

 

Companies can avoid this double taxation either by setting themselves up as partnerships, or by becoming an “S corporation”, a unique creation of America's tax code which gives a business limited liability without incorporating. An S corporation's profits are taxed just once, as the income of its shareholders. The number of these entities has soared in recent years, and they now account for about half of the income earned by American businesses.

 

This is business voting with its feet on a grand scale—but many of America's largest and most internationally mobile firms are unable to become S corporations, which have tight rules, not least being limited to a handful of shareholders. Congress is considering a law that will require private-equity firms that go public to start paying corporate tax—thanks to the furore over Blackstone's initial public offering in June, which the private-equity giant structured to avoid corporate tax. This law could perhaps be justified on grounds of equal treatment: the private-equity firms would be on a more even footing with other listed companies. But it would extend the scope of double taxation.

 

Congress is also considering taxing the carried interest of partners in private-equity firms as income rather than capital gains, which are taxed at a lower rate. The idea has merits—carried interest does indeed look more like income than equity. But Glenn Hubbard, dean of Columbia Business School and a former chairman of George Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, notes that private-equity partners, given the sort of accountants that they can afford, would no doubt find a way to avoid the higher tax.

 

Mr Hubbard thinks that America should now cut the corporate tax rate. Such a cut could be partly paid for by removing some of today's allowances. The Treasury calculates that getting rid of all existing allowances would broaden the tax base enough to allow the rate to be cut to 27%—though Mr Hubbard is sceptical that such a wholesale reform would be politically feasible, as some allowances, such as the research tax credit, are too popular with business. Instead, he wants America to raise money elsewhere, perhaps through consumption taxes as in Europe.

 

How much should the corporate tax rate be cut? Alan Auerbach of the University of California, Berkeley, says it would make sense for America to move more in line with other countries. Unfortunately, in the current political climate, even that idea seems outlandish. But Mr Hubbard, for one, thinks things would be different if voters realised who actually pays the tax. The evidence, he says, suggests that the burden of the corporate tax falls disproportionately on workers. For instance, a study by Kevin Hassett and Aparna Mathur of the American Enterprise Institute, looking at 72 countries over 22 years, suggests that a 1% increase in corporate tax rates results in a 0.8% reduction in manufacturing wage rates. Other studies paint a similar picture. If workers understood that corporate taxes are a toll on the common man, wouldn't they clamour for a rate cut?

 

Unlikelier things have happened, even in tax reform. As President Reagan observed when introducing his pioneering measures, “there are three stages of reaction to a new idea like our tax proposal. First stage is: ‘It's crazy. It'll never work. Don't waste my time.' The second: ‘It's possible, but it's not worth doing.' And finally: ‘I've always said it was a good idea. I'm glad I thought of it'.”

 

 

see main article from the Economist

 

 

 

Political Risk - USA

 

the measure of political risk is the chance that FDI or business might get interrupted by actions in the political arena.  One topic of particular consideration when discussing the USA is that of war, and particularily of Iraq and Afghanistan. In this section, I will analyze how the issue of “war” could affect the political risk of the USA, and about how it could affect international business, and what impact that “war”  could have on restrictions on operations, how it might interrupt Oil Industry supplies, and how there is a potential for international trade and investment sanctions.

 

 

 

 

Country: USA, External Conflict, War, November 2007

 

Today’s score: 2.5/ 4.0

 

 

 

It is important to note that “war” should be separated from “terror” in the ICRG analysis. In my analysis, the threat of terror may increase as the US engages in war in Iraq, but this does not affect the risk rating under the “war” category, which should only measure the risk that war would have an impact on business and investment in the USA, either by forcing a change in policy, or by an interruption in business activity. 

 

 

The USA is currently involved in open conflict in both Iraq and in Afghanistan. These two conflicts influence the risk level of conducting business, and investing in the USA.  As the situation stands today, I give the USA a score of 2.5 out of four, which indicates a fairly substantial level of risk. 

 

 

But, the war itself in Iraq or Afghanistan alone would likely not warrant a score lower than 3.5 out of 4.0.  This is because the impact of the war is relatively low on the business risk for investors in the US itself.  Because the war is outside of the US borders, the impact of the war on the US business environment is significantly lower than it would be on Iraq or on its neighbors.  Since the war is on foreign shores, and has a very low impact on day to day life in the US, I believe that the risk to international investors conducting business in the USA is relatively low (as it would be for Canada or Australia who are also involved in Afghanistan).  If the risk factor were to be based just on these two conflicts, I believe that the US would have a risk factor around 3.5 out of four.

 

On the other hand, there is additional risk that needs to be factored into the ICRG rating for the US.  The risk should not just be based on the current conditions of the current wars, but also lies in the uncertainty of the potential for future conflict.  Because the “war on terror” is so broadly defined, it is difficult to define the limits to this “war”.   Because there is uncertainty about what the limits, or end date of the war, the risk of potential impact on the business is increased.  Uncertainty increases risk.

 

 

For example, what if the “war on terror” were to expand in the future to include the other two “axis of evil” countries?  What might happen in Pakistan if General Musharraf were to loose power, and if consequently the control over the nuclear arsenal were to fall into the “wrong hands”?  Would the US feel compelled to enter the conflict to protect that nuclear arsenal?  In each of these areas, it is difficult to know the limits of the US war on terror, and when and if the open military action would stop.  Without a clear definition about where this war is going, it is necessary to increase the risk rating, and decrease the score from 3.5 to 2.5 out of four.

 

 

 

Country: USA, External Conflict, War, November 2008

 

1 year score: 2.5/ 4.0

 

 

 

One year from now, I predict that the ICRG risk factor of “war” will still have a rating of 2.5 out of four.  One year from today, it is highly likely that the USA will still be involved in open conflict in both Iraq and in Afghanistan. These two conflicts will continue to influence the risk level of conducting business, and investing in the USA. 

 

 

On the positive side, in November 2008, there will be a major election in the USA in which the Presidency, all seats of the House of Representatives, and one-third of the Senate will be up for election.  As the election nears, there will be added pressure on the politicians to present a plan for how to improve the situation in Iraq or to exit Iraq all together. This should exert pressure on the politicians and will limit the uncertainty around the “war on terror” in the short term.  This can be seen already as President Bush was forced in September to reverse the earlier troop surge as he is facing mounting political pressure from fellow Republicans who are up for election next year. With popular support for the war at a minimal level, it becomes difficult to predict how the US population would react if the war were to continue for much longer, without any clear signs of potential victory.

 

 

Candidates vying for the presidency in 2008 will have to contend with weak public opinion about the direction of the war.  Many Americans are tired of war, and are looking for leaders that can clearly define an acceptable exit strategy from Iraq.  If the Democrats win the White House, it becomes more likely for a faster exit from Iraq, and a stronger emphasis on diplomacy with the international community, and less emphasis on pre-emptive (go-it-alone) policy. 

 

 

However, this does not mean that the political risk of “war” risk will significantly reduce over the coming year.  This timeframe is just too short for an election to have that much of an impact.  No matter who wins the elections, even if it is the Democrats, there will continue to be areas of open conflict which the US will continue to be apart of.  Afghanistan will continue to be an open conflict, and it is unlikely that the US will be able to withdraw from Iraq within one year.  War with Iran will continue to be a possibility, as will war with North Korea or even Pakistan. 

 

Because of this uncertainty, it is recommended that the ICRG variable of “war” should continue as 2.5/4. 

 

 

 

Country: USA, External Conflict, War, November 2012

 

5 year score: 3.0/ 4.0

 

 

 

Five years from now, I predict that the ICRG risk factor of “war” will improve to a rating of three out of four.  Although it is likely that the USA will still be involved in open conflict in Afghanistan, I predict that the US will have significantly reduced its combat role in Iraq. The main reason for the exit, I believe, will be due to a lack of political support for long term war on behalf of the US public.  The economist intelligence unit predicts that if the Democrats were to win the 2008 election in the US, that a “substantial withdrawal of troops would be very likely”.

 

 

Five years from now (2012) will be another election year in the USA.  Because of this fact, it is again likely that democratic pressures will be exerted on politicians to wrap-up any war efforts, and it is unlikely that public support will be sufficient to draw out they Iraq war beyond a 5 year horizon.

 

 

But, beyond Iraq, I believe that the risk of war over the next 5 years will continue because of future potential for armed conflict in support of “war on terror”.  The broad definition of the war on terror will contribute to continued risk due to war.

 

 

The risk to business in relation to “war” and the USA goes well beyond the direct impact of physical risk to business assets.  The additional risk is political. The reason for the political risk is that it is hard to predict how other nations would react to the US if they were to engage in another unilateral military campaign.

 

 

If the US were to unilaterally decide that it could preemptively go to war with another nation to protect its self interests (or defend itself preemptively), then it becomes difficult to predict how other nations (especially European allies) would react.  If the US were to unilaterally go to war with a country such as Iran, I wonder if here would there be support from European allies?  If not, would there be trade repercussions?  The dangers to the economic interests of business dealing with the US are unknown. This increases the economic, trade and investment risk due to the ICRG variable of “war” and the USA.

 

 

Even though the direct risk due to the Iraq war should reduce over the next 5 years, I contend that the risk of further escalation and the potential for European trade retaliation is palpable, and should factor into the ICRG rating for the USA. My conclusion is a score of 3.0/4.0.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

History

 

Image:U.S. Territorial Acquisitions.png

 

 

Image:Census-2000-Data-Top-US-Ancestries-by-County.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regions of the USA

 

 

The United States has dozens of major cities—playing an important role in U.S. culture, heritage, and economy. In 2004, 251 incorporated places had populations of at least 100,000 and nine had populations greater than a million—including five important global cities: New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Dallas. In addition, there are 50 metropolitan areas with populations over a million

 

1 New York City, New York   8,143,197

2 Los Angeles, California      3,844,829

3 Chicago, Illinois                 2,842,518

4 Houston, Texas                 2,016,582

5 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1,463,281

6 Phoenix, Arizona                 1,461,575

7 San Antonio, Texas             1,256,509

8 San Diego, California           1,255,540

9 Dallas, Texas                       1,213,825

10 San Jose, California              912,332

 

 

 

Areas of Specialty

 

 

Creative-Class Meccas

 

NEW YORK, New York

Population > 18.8 million

Leading indicator > Nation's highest per capita income in the urban core

Fast companies > Viacom; JetBlue Airways; Goldman Sachs

Love it or not, New York is sui generis. It has among the highest proportions in the nation of college-educated foreign residents, of ethnic restaurants, and of small businesses, according to CityVitals. It also has 42 million tourists, a reinvigorated stock market, and a plan from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to make the city more eco-friendly.

 

New York travel

 

 

 

 

 

SAN FRANCISCO, California

Population > 4.2 million

Leading indicator > No. 1 in the world in scientist citations

Fast companies > Lucasfilm; Wild Brain; and nearby, the whole Silicon Valley crowd

Is there a more continuously creative city in the world? The epicenter of USA entrepreneurship is still tied to Silicon Valley's fortunes, but it's also hatching its own digital-media sector and a biotech and biomedical hub around UCSF.

 

 

Atlanta, Georgia

Los Angeles, California

 

 

 

Green Leaders

 

Chicago, Illinois

Population > 9.5 million

Leading indicator > Since 1999, the city has planted 2.5 million square feet of heat-reducing rooftop gardens, more than all other USA cities combined

Fast companies > CDW; W.W. Grainger; Chicago Board of Trade

Second to whom? Mayor Richard Daley has overseen a downtown renaissance and the planting of 500,000 new trees. In the wake of a deadly 1995 heat wave, he has also launched a raft of aggressive initiatives to cool the city while conserving energy--and beat New York to an environmental action plan by two years.

 

Chicago travel

 

DSC03297

 

Portland, Oregon

Population > 2.5 million

Leading indicator > With 125 projects and counting, Portland has the most structures certified by the USA Green Building Council

Fast companies > Nike; Tektronix; Adidas USA; ad firm Wieden+Kennedy

Three decades ago, Portland became a case study on how to stuff sprawl when it enacted strict limits on urban growth. Today, it's at the forefront of the "eat local" revolution, in which individuals and restaurants buy directly from area farmers to preserve livelihoods and open space. With 13 farmer's markets, and nearby world-class vineyards, residents not only buy local but they eat and drink well too.

 

 

 

Minneapolis , Minnesota

Sacramento , California

Tallahassee , Florida

 

 

 

 

Culture Centers

 

Miami , Florida

 

 

Location is key to serving the Caribbean, Central, and South American markets. The local trade promotion agency is eFlorida http://www.eflorida.com/

 

Florida travel

- Miami, Orlando, Disney world, Key West...

 

 

 

Nashville , Tennessee

Omaha , Nebraska

 

 

 

 

Global Villages

 

Boulder , Colorado

Colorado travel

- Denver and mountains...

 

 

 

 

 

Seattle , Washington

 

 

 

 

 

High-Tech Hot spots

 

 

 

Boise, Idaho

Population > 568,000

Leading indicator > Second-highest tech GDP growth in the USA, says the Milken Institute

Fast companies > Micron; ClickBank

Potatoes? Yeah, Boise has those. But the real action is in online publishing and broadcasting, where employment is up 650% since 2000. wireless telecom is plenty hot too.

 

 

Des Moines, Iowa

San Diego, California

 

 

 

 

 

R&D Clusters

 

FORT COLLINS, Colorado

Population > 276,000

Leading indicator > Generating patents at the rate of 11.45 a year per 10,000 people, nearly four times the USA city average

Fast companies > LSI; Advanced Energy Industries

A big college town means two things: research and beer. Colorado State University spins out world-class work in realms from bacterial diseases to sustainable energy, feeding a patent stream that's growing by 21% a year. And Fort Collins's six breweries spin out … brew. Synergy alert: New Belgium Brewery has pioneered efficiencies for carbon emissions and water use.

 

 

 

 

Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

Population > 1.6 million

Leading indicator > Highest percentage of college grads aged 25 to 34 in the USA

Fast companies > Red Hat; SAS Institute

This region wrote the original recipe for high-tech clusters: Start with careful planning, add a warm business climate, and top with a high quality of life. But don't forget the brains. Three big universities fuel innovation in biotech, pharma, and computer science

 

Boston, Massachusetts

Rochester, Minnesota

 

 

 

 

 

 

Urban Innovators

 

 

SALT LAKE CITY Utah

Population > 1.1 million

Leading indicator > Youngest urban citizenry in the USA

Fast company > Alzheimer's drugmaker Myriad Genetics

Mayor Rocky Anderson, a liberal anomaly in Utah, is radically redesigning SALT LAKE CITY's downtown. He envisions more green space and the return of City Creek, which now flows under the streets. The goal: a more open, human feel that attracts newcomers--among them traffic-weary Californians--to the city center.

 

 

 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 

 

 

Start-up Hubs

 

AUSTIN, [Texas]

Population > 1.5 million

Leading indicator > Highest number by far of Wi-Fi hot spots per capita in the USA

Fast companies > Dell Computer; Whole Foods Market

Austin's young population (75% are under 45) fuels a white-hot entertainment industry. The South by Southwest festival draws thousands of media professionals to the "live-music capital of the world" (1,580 bands! 70 venues!) each March, and film production has increased tenfold in a decade. The result: a host of young media and related technology companies, like Robert Rodriguez's Troublemaker Studios and Powerhouse Animation Studios.

 

 

MADISON, Wisconsin

Population > 543,000

Leading indicator > The University of Wisconsin at Madison spends more on R&D than Stanford, MIT, or Harvard

Fast companies > Promega; Third Wave Technologies; EMD Biosciences

biotech bastion of the breadbasket. The University of Wisconsin employs about 50 stem-cell researchers, has one of the top tech-transfer programs in the nation, and is sinking $150 million in state and private money into its Institutes of Discovery. That has helped seed more than 100 life-sciences firms in surrounding Dane County.

 

 

 

TUSCON, Arizona

Population > 946,000

Leading indicator > Among the top 10 in the USA for job growth and high-tech-industry concentration

Fast companies > Raytheon Missile Systems; UniSource Energy; Universal Avionics

Welcome to "Optics Valley," home to 160 mostly small outfits, such as All Optronics and 4D Technology, focused on optical design and engineering, fiber-optic components, and precision optical fabrication. Life sciences, environmental technologies, and aerospace are booming too. The Arizona Center for innovation is expanding its tech inCubator and is eyeing a second near the University of Arizona.

 

 

Ann Arbor, Michigan

 

Michigan travel

 

 

IMG_0590

 

 

 

 

Alaska -

 

has the largest FedEx facility anywhere in the world, outside of their headquarters in (memphis?). The reason that they selected Anchorage, Alaska is due to its location. I know, that sounds strange at first, but then you realize that Anchorage is the closest American city to Europe (short flight over the north pole to Germany), and it is also logistically close to China (Beijing is not far). So, if you are going to create a logisics hub to serve air traffic consolidation with business in Northern Europe and Asia, with a access to the west coast of the USA, Canada and Mexico ...the best location turns out to be Anchorage, Alaska...go figure.

 

 

Alaska travel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Economic Data

 

  Economy    United States Top of Page
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
The US has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $43,500. In this market-oriented economy, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions, and the federal and state governments buy needed goods and services predominantly in the private marketplace. US business firms enjoy greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products. At the same time, they face higher barriers to enter their rivals' home markets than foreign firms face entering US markets. US firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers and in medical, aerospace, and military equipment; their advantage has narrowed since the end of World War II. The onrush of technology largely explains the gradual development of a "two-tier labor market" in which those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. The response to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 showed the remarkable resilience of the economy. The war in March-April 2003 between a US-led coalition and Iraq, and the subsequent occupation of Iraq, required major shifts in national resources to the military. The rise in GDP in 2004-06 was undergirded by substantial gains in labor productivity. Hurricane Katrina caused extensive damage in the Gulf Coast region in August 2005, but had a small impact on overall GDP growth for the year. Soaring oil prices in 2005 and 2006 threatened inflation and unemployment, yet the economy continued to grow through year-end 2006. Imported oil accounts for about two-thirds of US consumption. Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable trade and budget deficits, and stagnation of family income in the lower economic groups. The merchandise trade deficit reached a record $750 billion in 2006.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$13.06 trillion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
Definition Field Listing
$13.16 trillion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.9% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$43,800 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 0.9%
industry: 20.9%
services: 78.2% (2006 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
151.4 million (includes unemployed) (2006 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
farming, forestry, and fishing 0.7%, manufacturing, extraction, transportation, and crafts 22.9%, managerial, professional, and technical 34.9%, sales and office 25%, other services 16.5%
note: figures exclude the unemployed (2006)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
4.8% (2006 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
12% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 1.9%
highest 10%: 29.9% (2000)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
Definition Field Listing
45 (2004)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
3.2% (2006 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
16.4% of GDP (2006 est.)
Budget:
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $2.407 trillion
expenditures: $2.655 trillion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2006 est.)
Public debt:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
64.7% of GDP (2005 est.)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
wheat, corn, other grains, fruits, vegetables, cotton; beef, pork, poultry, dairy products; fish; forest products
Industries:
Definition Field Listing
leading industrial power in the world, highly diversified and technologically advanced; petroleum, steel, motor vehicles, aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, electronics, food processing, consumer goods, lumber, mining
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
4.2% (2006 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
4.062 trillion kWh (2005)
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
3.816 trillion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
19.8 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
44.53 billion kWh (2005)
Oil - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
7.61 million bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
20.73 million bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.048 million bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
13.15 million bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
21.37 billion bbl (1 January 2005)
Natural gas - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
490.8 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
604 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
19.8 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
117.9 billion cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
5.551 trillion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
-$811.5 billion (2006 est.)
Exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$1.023 trillion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
agricultural products (soybeans, fruit, corn) 9.2%, industrial supplies (organic chemicals) 26.8%, capital goods (transistors, aircraft, motor vehicle parts, computers, telecommunications equipment) 49.0%, consumer goods (automobiles, medicines) 15.0% (2003)
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Canada 22.2%, Mexico 12.9%, Japan 5.8%, China 5.3%, UK 4.4% (2006)
Imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$1.861 trillion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
agricultural products 4.9%, industrial supplies 32.9% (crude oil 8.2%), capital goods 30.4% (computers, telecommunications equipment, motor vehicle parts, office machines, electric power machinery), consumer goods 31.8% (automobiles, clothing, medicines, furniture, toys) (2003)
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Canada 16%, China 15.9%, Mexico 10.4%, Japan 7.9%, Germany 4.8% (2006)
Economic aid - donor:
Definition Field Listing
ODA, $6.9 billion (1997)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$65.89 billion (2006 est.)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$10.04 trillion (30 June 2006 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
Definition Field Listing
$1.818 trillion (2006 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
Definition Field Listing
$2.306 trillion (2006 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
Definition Field Listing
$17 trillion (2005)
Currency (code):
Definition Field Listing
US dollar (USD)
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
British pounds per US dollar -: 0.5418 (2006), 0.5500 (2005), 0.5462 (2004), 0.6125 (2003), 0.6672 (2002)
Canadian dollars per US dollar -: 1.1334 (2006), 1.2118 (2005), 1.3010 (2004), 1.4011 (2003), 1.5693 (2002)
Japanese yen per US dollar -: 116.18 (2006) 110.22 (2005), 108.19 (2004), 115.93 (2003), 125.39 (2002)
euros per US dollar -: .7964 (2006), 0.8041 (2005), 0.8054 (2004), 0.8860 (2003), 1.0626 (2002)
Chinese yuan per US dollar -: 7.97 (2006), 8.1943 (2005), 8.2768 (2004), 8.2770 (2003), 8.2770 (2002)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
1 October - 30 Septembe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2005 List of "Fast Cities"

 

 

 

Sacramento , California

Sandra Gonzalez grew up in a family that picked fruit throughout California. "I got into the wine business by osmosis," she says. But it was during her 10 years working for the Wine Institute, a California trade association, that she came to realize that wineries were doing little to cater to Latino customers. In 2002, she founded Vino con Vida ("wine with life"), a wine-education company, to change that. Gonzalez, 36, has worked with such wineries as Round Hill Vineyards, writes for trade publications, and appears at industry events. She picked Sacramento rather than San Francisco because it's between some of the largest wine-producing regions and because "Sacramento represents a lot of the changing demographics in the country." Living in the state capital also helps her stay attuned to new legislation that could affect the wine industry. And as California goes, so goes the country. As Gonzalez says, "I don't think people realize the impact that Sacramento has on the world."

-Michael A. Prospero

 

Cornerstones: Between 1999 and 2003, the average annual growth rate of the creative class demographic was 4.3%, one of the highest upticks of our 10 USA cities. The University of California, Davis, in the midst of California's wine region, is a worldwide center for viticulture and food-science research. Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, and Napa are all within a few hours' drive. Daniel Libeskind is building a condo tower downtown.

 

Caveats: Plans to revive Sacramento 's downtown entertainment options are admirable but have seen years of false starts.

 

Phoenix, Arizona

When the New York ad agency that Louie Moses worked for opened a Phoenix office and shipped him out to work there, "it was kind of like being sent to Siberia," he recalls. But within a couple of years, the Pittsburgh native came to like Phoenix's desert sunsets and red-rock mountains, and at the young age of 23, he opened his own ad shop, Moses Anshell, in the Valley of the Sun. "I remember thinking, This is the perfect place for an artist. You can think freely, and you have time to open your mind to new ideas." More than 20 years later, Moses, 45, runs his agency--which expects $69 million in billings in 2005--from a converted 1920s warehouse in Phoenix's revitalized downtown. With clients such as the Arizona tourism board, creative director Moses is helping to tell others what he already knows: Phoenix, now the fifth-largest city in the country, is a lot hotter than Siberia.

-Jena McGregor

 

Cornerstones: That biotech cluster in the middle of downtown is no mirage. In March, the city opened the Phoenix biomedical Center, a 28-acre campus that already houses both the Translational Genomics Research Institute and the International Genomics Consortium. Phoenix's tourist and convention attractions--Sedona's red rocks are just two hours away, and Scottsdale's galleries, golf courses, and spas are even closer--aren't bad for the locals, either.

 

Caveats: Metro Phoenix's population, currently 3.5 million, is one of the fastest growing in the country. With nearly 5 million more people expected in the next 25 years, smart planning will be crucial to prevent boom from becoming bust.

 

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah

A few years ago, Shawn Nelson was driving between two of his funky furniture-design stores in Los Angeles when, in his words, "I went insane on the 405 freeway." The 28-year-old founder and CEO of LoveSac, who had lived in Taiwan and Shanghai (he speaks fluent Mandarin), decided to move back to his hometown of SALT LAKE CITY. It wasn't crazy at all: A large number of former Mormon missionaries, like Nelson, return to Salt Lake, ensuring a steady supply of educated, bilingual workers for his 75-store, $30 million company. That's especially helpful when your manufacturing is in Mexico and your material comes from China. The abundance of four-season outdoor activities at hand--skiing, mountain biking, boating--doesn't hurt, either. Nelson is establishing LoveSac as a "hard-core leisure" brand. That thinking almost certainly endeared him to Sir Richard Branson, helping Nelson win Branson' s reality show, The Rebel Billionaire.

-MP

 

Cornerstones: Between 1997 and 2004, the number of women-owned firms in the metro area increased 36%. The money local VCs have available to invest in the past five years has grown from $75 million to $700 million. The Sundance Film Festival hosts some screenings here each January.

 

Caveats: lowest tolerance--and therefore the talent it attracts--ranks SLC second lowest of our 10 cities.

 

San Antonio, Texas

Lea Ann Champion arrived in San Antonio five years ago, and she immediately fell for the Alamo city. Coming from San Francisco, the SBC executive found San Antonio to be affordable, family-friendly, and blessed with a rich Hispanic culture. Those same city selling points helped her recruit top entertainment-industry folks from New York and Los Angeles to Project Lightspeed--SBC's initiative to bring IP-based voice, video, and data to the home--which she heads up as senior executive vice president of IP operations and services. "It's been easy to attract amazing talent," says Champion, who's drawn more than a dozen team members from outside San Antonio. In the five years she's been there, Champion, 47, has watched as San Antonio's economy has diversified away from the military, adding tourism, manufacturing, and high-tech jobs. She expects the SBC-AT&T merger only to add more. "I already see the effects of SBC attracting other companies to locate their key personnel here in this city," she says. "There's truly a pulling effect going on." -JM

 

Cornerstones: SBC, the Baby Bell about to swallow its mama, AT&T, will become the largest telco when the merger goes through. Artpace is one of the country's most respected contemporary arts residences.

 

Caveats: San Antonio is diverse, thanks to its Hispanic population, but there's not much melting of the pot going on. Its "integration" measure, which looks at how well ethnic groups are dispersed, is the lowest of our USA cities.

 

 

Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

When Ryan Wuerch's Nashville -based software company acquired a small Raleigh, North Carolina, firm last year, he naturally thought he'd move the headquarters of the merged mobile software company to Tennessee . But then his wife reminded him how frustrated he always was at the lack of top-notch tech talent in Nashville and suggested he think about Raleigh. "I knew what a fertile talent region looked like, and that was the exact feeling I had when I went to Raleigh," he says, noting the city's deep educational resources. Since the merger, his company, Motricity, has grown from 46 to almost 300 employees, and in turn is moving from Research Triangle Park to downtown Durham, where it will call home a 100-year-old converted tobacco-factory complex with restaurants, waterfalls, Wi-Fi, and jazz bands. "People want to work in a place where they feel inspired," says Wuerch, 38. "That means not only being in a creative city, but being in an environment where creativity can take on a new shape."

-JM

 

Cornerstones: The area has the highest patent-growth rate (17.5%) of our 10 cities and is home to three prestigious research universities: Duke, UNC, and NC State. It's becoming a hub for medical-device companies. And the biggest job surge between 1999 and 2003 wasn't in computers or medicine but in knowledge professions like education and consulting. The creative-class community--nearly 40% of the population, the highest among all our cities--is fueling downtown renaissances in both Raleigh and Durham.

 

Caveats: The Triangle's traffic snarls are mounting. A commuter rail system between Raleigh and Durham is coming eventually, but the state recently cut the region's transportation funding by $300 million over the next six years.

 

 

San Diego, California

Born and raised in Montreal, Jennifer Luce, 45, started her architecture firm Luce et Studio in San Diego. Why? With the ocean, desert, and mountains all nearby, "there are so many contrasting images," she says, "so to build in that environment is very exciting. It's one of the most diverse landscapes I've ever encountered." Her 15-year-old, eight-person firm has done mostly corporate work, particularly for Nissan, garnering seven architecture awards and $2.3 million in revenue last year. Now Luce wants to do municipal projects, such as helping to redefine San Diego's public spaces. "It's a growing city," she says. "And we're there at the perfect time to help formulate a physical identity for the place."

-MP

 

Cornerstones: Last year, the city pulled in more VC funding than Los Angeles. Per capita, there are more biotech companies here than in any other city in California--something that only stands to increase as the state rolls out its $3 billion stem-cell initiative. Locals have adopted the trendy bars and shops in the revitalized Gaslamp Quarter, prompting city planners to invest in further downtown developments like Petco Park.

 

Caveats: San Diego isn't cheap; geographic constraints keep property values high in the city. The New York Times branded San Diego "Enron by the Sea" last year after a raft of investigations and financial problems in city government.

 

 

 

Portland, Oregon

Jeffrey Butters sold his Xterra SUV a little over a year ago. "It was senseless driving into downtown Portland," he says of his commute to work that now takes 12 minutes on his bike. A native of Oregon, he and several members of his family founded the Butters Gallery--an international contemporary-art gallery that has showcased everything from gold-leafed cow dung to sophisticated modern sculpture and paintings--in 1988. "Maybe five or six years ago people would've been surprised to find a modern gallery like ours in Portland, but not today." Butters, 42, is an artist as well as a gallery owner and has his own downtown studio for painting. His passion for the city matches his passion for art. "I think we've developed a sense of city pride that revolves around being creative," he says. "The city is a wonderful, vibrant place to be."

-Lucas Conley

 

Cornerstones: The Pearl District, an 80-year-old warehouse area, has seen more than 50 residential and commercial projects in just over a decade, transforming it into a hip place to live. It's a mix of 19th-century industrial buildings and modern condos and art galleries. Home to the largest wooded city park (Forest Park) in the country, the Portland area is lush with outdoor opportunities.

 

Caveats: As real-estate prices continue to rise, residents have been fleeing to the suburbs. Big-box stores such as Pier One have been cropping up on the fringes, drawing shoppers from inside the city and stalling development of the downtown shopping district.

 

 

 

Madison, Wisconsin

Brian Vandewalle knows what Madison, Wisconsin, has to offer better than anyone. The founder of an eponymous urban-planning firm, he helped develop "The Healthy City," a report by the Madison mayor's office mapping out a progressive development plan for the community. Recommendations include linking two local assets, bioscience and agriculture; creating more space for the arts; and working with developers to produce live-work neighborhoods. "The idea is to study each of these layers," says Vandewalle, "and try to develop a comprehensive model." It's a model that Vandewalle, 56, thinks will let Madison entice the University of Wisconsin's 41,000 students, nearly 30% of whom are pursuing advanced degrees, to put down roots here.

-MP

 

 

Cornerstones: A progressive-minded enclave where unemployment is a rock-bottom 2.5% and the creative class continues to expand at an average of 7.8% a year. Madison owes much of its success to the 26,000 people who work in high-tech fields--a number that's growing every year. The vast majority of Wisconsin's recent $750 million biotech initiative will wind up here.

 

Caveats: Local business owners describe Madison's city council as an "indecipherable bureaucracy " of red tape.

 

 

 

Tucson, Arizona

Dr. Shibin Jiang knew he was in the right place when he moved to Tucson to work at the University of Arizona's Optical Sciences Center in 1996. It was a big change from North Carolina (especially the weather), but the work was too appealing. "We call Tucson 'Optics Valley,' " he says. "If you're an optical engineer, it's the best place in the country to be." By 1998, Jiang, now 40, had cofounded NP Photonics, a company that makes advanced fiber-optical lasers used by the Department of Defense and scientific researchers to monitor conditions deep beneath the sea. As for the weather, it's now one of Jiang's favorite parts of life in the Southwest. "I travel to the DC area a lot, and it'll be snowing and raining and cold," he says. "When I get on the plane back to Tucson, I'm so glad to come home."

-LC

 

Cornerstones: Technology companies have transformed Tucson into the fifth-fastest-growing high-tech community (in terms of goods and services) in the nation. Recreation is also serious business: The city's spas, golf courses, and desert retreats account for more than $1.5 billion in leisure and hospitality spending. Nearly a third of Tucson's 900,000 metro residents were born in Mexico, giving the city significant cultural diversity.

 

Caveats: The large population of immigrant workers means one in five here still lives in poverty. Urban sprawl is taxing the city's infrastructure ; local authorities have identified some $3 billion in much-needed transportation improvements.

 

 

 

Colorado Springs, Colorado

"Software companies actually exist in Colorado Springs?" That's what new clients of XAware invariably ask its CTO and cofounder, Rohit Mital. He understands their disbelief. His first visit here came as a Columbia University electrical engineering PhD candidate, applying for a job with Hewlett-Packard . He headed back that same day, even though HP had paid for the weekend. But after MCI moved part of its IT force here in 1992, things changed, and Mital founded XAware with a former MCI executive in 1999. "The technical force we needed was available," Mital, 42, says. So was the customer base for this integrator of complex computer systems. The big defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon, were XAware's bread and butter for the first couple of years. Since then, his company has been able to build on the products it developed for those contractors and pitch them to the insurance and financial-services companies it almost exclusively serves today.

-Jennifer Vilaga

 

 

Cornerstones: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman, the nation's top-three defense contractors, all have offices here, and it's also the home of the Air Force Academy. They're magnets for talent and create opportunities for startups. Residents here enjoy 300 sunny days a year. The 14,110-foot Pikes Peak acts as a scenic backdrop.

 

Caveats: The reliance on the military means a pinch on the local economy whenever troops ship out. This largely Christian conservative city's hints at low tolerance

 

 

 

Too -slow cities

 

St Louis, Missouri

Too normal for its own good. It ranks dead last on CityVitals' "Weirdness Index," a measure of passion and engagement.

 

New Orleans, Louisiana

We wish it weren't so. But NOLA was slow before Katrina. The cleanup debacle has only reinforced that reality.

 

Detroit, Michigan

Last one out, shut off the manufacturing line. Tragically, inevitably bound to the USA auto industry's failings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other cities reviewed

 

Greenville, South Carolina

A quiet powerhouse with a strong city government that knows how to manage growth. BMW, Fluor, and many other successful companies call this area home. Less than one hour from the "Best City" overall (Forbes) -- Asheville, North Carolina... The Peace Center is only one downtown theater venue, but it's the one that gets all the same Broadway productions I was used to seeing in Detroit, Chicago and Toronto . The education system is ranking well, and with Furman, Clemson and (oh, okay, we'll say it...) Bob Jones, the collegiate attitude thrives. Greenville Technical College provides opportunities for those not university-bound. We just moved here from (ahem) Detroit. It's another world.

 

 

 

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta is not only hot in the summer - it's hot year-round: Young urbans, creative culturists, thoughtful multiracials, multinational businesses, start-up thinkers,and thriving dot.com baby boomers who are generating new ideas, new capital, new opportunites. Atlanta's old tagline of "a city too busy too hate" takes on a more modern formulation - "a city too innovative to wait." One of the smartest mayors in the country, city leaders who strive to improve clogged traffic, and a racially diverse population that demands change and speed. And if you haven't seen the city in person, it is far greener, far hillier, and far more enticing than the slower among us can imagine. Private enterprise, private schools, and private hope for the future make Atlanta a metropolitan area that won't slow down.

- just ranked 1.0 out of 5 for fast city by readers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Columbus, Ohio

Columbus, the State Capital and 15th largest US city is quickly growing up as a hip, urban oasis of highly educated young professionals, entrepreneurs and artists. With steady growth, employment and a revitalizing downtown, expect to see more in the near future.

 

 

 

Des Moines, Iowa

Great education, family values, sprouting urban development, lifestyles and entertainment. Des Moines has it all for young professionals.

 

Boulder , Colorado

Boulder is small enough (around 100,000) that it feels like a small town. But it has big city resources (either here or in Denver) and it's a place where exciting people stop by to visit, lecture, perform, etc. We're a lifestyle town -- creative types, athletes, entrepreneurs, green/organic types. People want to live here. Real estate is higher than it is in other parts of Colorado, but you make compromises to be here. I live in a studio apartment, but I own it outright and I live within walking distance of the University of Colorado, all the shopping I would ever need to do, multiple coffee house/third places, and even the local night life. I don't even need a car (though I have one) because there are bike paths and public transportation to get me everywhere.

 

 

 

Lincoln, Nebraska

Lincoln is fast becoming a biotech hub, especially in the ag and animal industry. biotech operations here include Novartis OTC research and manufacturing plant employing 600, Pfizer animal vaccine plant employing 600-700, MDS Pharma testing facility employing several hundred. Lincoln is also home to several small startups that have developed significant products such as Geneseek and Nature Technology.

 

Broomfield, Colorado

A neighbor of Boulder and just down the road from Ft. Collins the entrepreneurial spirit thrives in Broomfield. With companies like Level-3 Communications, Sun Microsystems, and IBM (Whom have large operations centers in Broomfield) it is a hotbed of technology with former employees of the above mentioned giants leaving to create their own companies. Broomfield has much of the same benefits that Boulder and Ft. Collins are known for such as amazing view of the Rocky Mountain foothills and many cultural amenities. The only noticeable downside would be over-development.

 

Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville is the fastest growing technology center in the Southeast and has the highest concentration of engineers in the country. It also has a wealth of natural resources that translate into multiple recreational opportunities, and our arts and music scene is comparable to those of much larger cities. We are experiencing a lot of growth that is moving us more into the urban realm, but we are maintaining short commutes and high quality of life. Recognized by Kiplinger's as one of the top five locations for mid-career professionals, we also got high marks for young professionals and "empty nesters." I've lived in some of the Fast Cities and wouldn't go back. I've got the best of both worlds here.

 

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The fusion of cultures, education, lifestyles and happenstance of the katrina event has made Baton Rouge a melting pot of energy and opportunity. It is the midpoint between Houston and the gulf coast. The access to New Orleans, the access to the mississippi gulf coast makes it a natural launch point for anything having to do with the renissance of the gulf coast rim.

 

 

Reno, Nevada

Reno is Artown (renoisartown.com) Reno Whitewater Park (reno river festival) Lake Tahoe Pyramid Lake 3.5 hrs drive to SF / .45 minute flight Burning Man University of Nevada, Reno

 

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles is considered the creative capital of the world. The city has the biggest pull in US when it comes to creativity.

 

 

Fairfax County, Virginia

Incredible job growth in last 20 years, technology-based economy, huge number of foreign- and minority-owned companies, close to federal market and culture of Washington DC, great public school system.

 

 

New Orleans, Louisiana

For all of it's failures, New Orleans remains on the top of cultural meccas in the USA if not the world. A city brimming with the visual and performing arts to old style jazz to avant garde music. The bohemia of this city is more active than it ever was pre Katrina. And for those willing to take a chance, jobs abound, and one need not look far to make your mark

 

 

Houston, Texas

Lots of opportunity for engineering in the chemical industry, large arts community, one of the most economical places to buy a house.

 

Tallahassee , Florida

Home to Florida State University, Florida A&M University and a thriving community college, Tallahassee has a highly educated workforce, sound infrastructure , a young population, educational institutions with top research facilities and numerous experts and resources in nearly all major business categories. Tallahassee is among the top 50 cities in the USA for business relocation according to Expansion Management magazine, a trade magazine for businesses seeking new locations. Moody’s Economy.com, a leading national business website ranked Tallahassee 35 out of 379 cities included in its Business Vitality Index that ranks economic vitality of a metro area.

 

Spokane, Washington

Spokane, WA is a wonderful city at the center of a huge region that in many ways is very similar to Boise, ID. Spokane is in Eastern Washington and has several colleges within 100 miles of it, including Gonzaga University, Washington State University, Eastern Washington University, Whitworth University, and North Idaho College. It is the 2nd largest city in Washington State (behind Seattle ) and it outpaced it's counterparts on the west side of the state both in job growth and population growth. It has a wonderful quality of life with many parks, hiking and biking trails, skiing and wonderful lakes close by for boating. There has been a huge investment and revitalization of downtown Spokane with more than $1 billion dollars flowing into downtown in the last few years. We are set to begin construction on a world class white-water rafting park in the cities core just to the west of one of the largest urban waterfalls in the world. Also, ground was just broken on a huge project on the north side of the Spokane River overlooking the falls that will provide 2600 living units and 1,000,000 square feet of office and retail space. We have a hot real estate market despite the national trends an exciting night life that has recently begun to take shape. We just made #20 on the 2007 Forbes List of Best Cities for Business and Careers. I am a young professional and have discovered that there are many like me in this town. Huge oppoturnities here and wonderful growth. Please don't pass us up! Come and visit! Thanks for your time.....

 

 

 

Travel USA

 

 

The drive across the US from Chicago to Denver is a bit flat and dull, but once you arrive in Denver,and see the mountains rise out of the plains, you begin to see the US in a whole different way. Rolling out of western Colorado and into Utah, you will find beautiful parks, more great skiiing and then southward to the Grand Canyon, on to the lights of Las Vegas, and keep going to the city of Los Angeles where there is surfing and good times. Head north to San Francisco or south to San Diego. Heading back across the country along route 66 is a great experience, and arriving in New York city by car is something not to miss. Drive into Manhattan and through time square. Go upstate and visit Vermont. Then, drive down route 95 past Baltimore and Washington DC. Keep going until the sun shines over the state of Florida. Park your car in South Beach or head down to Key West. Wherever you go in this great nation, Im sure you are going to have fun.

 

 

Idaho travel

In addition to their world-famous potatos, Idaho also has some stunning scenery...

 

 

 

 

California travel

 

- San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, etc..

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Virginia

 

Whitewater river: Gaulley River and New River. On the weekend after Labor day in the fall, the dam of Summersville lake is released, and the Gaulley River shoots like a rocket down and rafters are treated to a thrill ride down a series of class IV and V+ rapids. The upper Gaulley river run is a ride of a life time. Over the course of 5 weekends in the fall, I recommend that you pack a tent and camp nearby. Most campgrounds in the area also offer river rafting, so you can book it through the campground management. If you are luck enough to be there over the Base Jumping weekend, you will get to see 1000's of nuts jump off of the New River bridge to the river below (parachuting). Its a great festival and one not to miss.

 

 

 

Phoenix, Arizona

surprisingly small big city. there are very few big buildings. there is very little grass, and lots of cactus in peoples backyards. From the airplane, it looks like one massive suburb with planned neighborhoods as far as the eye can see. Its nice in that eveyone gets a house of their own, and some of the neighborhoods seem nice, but man is it ever dry. Glendale is north of downtown by about 30 minutes. The neighborhoods to the east seem to be nicely developed with some golf courses (little pockets of green).

 

Atlanta, Georgia

Has just about the nicest airport Ive ever seen. It seems a bit like a fancy shopping mall, and oh, by the way, its an airport too! I saw vending machines that sold iPods and trash compactors for garbage cans. The entire place is one giant hotspot for wifi internet access. It costs $8 to use the internet, but they have some free stuff that you can see...like flight arrivals, and departures, and general airport information. There is a train on the lower level that can take you from one terminal to the next. Compared to some other airports, this one in Atlanta is really good about limiting the amount of walking you have to do.

 

 

Hiking in Blue mountains panoramic photos: http://www.panoramas.dk/fullscreen5/f12-blue-mountains.html

Panoramic photos near Grand Canyon: http://www.panoramas.dk/fullscreen3/f8.html

 

 

 

 

 

Links

 

 

www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html

www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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