Reno 6th best small city, Las Vegas 5th best large city in America for 2018
After going through the toughest recession in its history, Northern Nevada has seen its fair share of economic development victories. Here's a list of some of the major developments for the region in recent years. Wochit
Nevada landed a one-two punch in an annual best cities ranking as Reno and Las Vegas placed in the top 10 among small and big cities respectively.
Buzz, recreation and an emerging tech industry launched Reno to No. 6 overall among small cities while attractions and improved livability landed Las Vegas in the No. 5 spot for large cities in the annual “America’s Best Cities 2018” list. The rankings are released by Resonance Consultancy, a global destination branding consulting firm with offices in New York City and Vancouver.
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It is the first top 10 appearance for Reno, which barely missed it last year after placing 11th. The report bases its rankings on six main categories, which include a mix of traditional and non-traditional metrics such as economic factors, infrastructure, housing affordability, Google search results and social media buzz.
By incorporating user-generated metrics instead of just relying solely on economic indicators, one can get a more complete picture about a city, said Chris Fair, Resonance Consultancy president.
“You get a holistic view with respect to the performance of a city in all these areas that determine desirability,” Fair said.
The Reno area ranked especially high in the product category — third best in the nation among small cities — for institutions, attractions and infrastructure, which also includes university rankings, airport connectivity and convention centers.
The city ranked eighth in the nation among small cities for the programming and promotion categories. These include arts, culture, restaurants and shopping as well as Google search results and mentions in such platforms as Facebook, Instagram and TripAdvisor.
Reno’s strong showing in this year’s rankings made it one of eight small cities that Resonance Consultancy is especially keeping an eye on as an up-and-comer in the destination space, Fair said.
“I’ve been to Reno many times working on projects and I think Reno’s story wasn’t very well known outside of Nevada and California,” Fair said. “We expect people to be talking about Reno and looking at the city in a new light after its rapid ascent in the rankings.”
Cities ranked in the best cities list did not pay for placement, Resonance said. The company also told the Reno Gazette Journal that it is not doing work for the city of Reno or any of its affiliates. City of Reno public works director John Flansberg also confirmed to the Reno Gazette Journal that it has done no work with Resonance.
The small cities category is limited to places with a population under 1 million. This year’s top 10 small cities are:
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Omaha, Nebraska
- Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Charleston, South Carolina
- El Paso, Texas
- Reno, Nevada
- Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Madison, Wisconsin
- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
- Asheville, North Carolina
Reno’s entry into the top 10 is no surprise, said Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve given all the changes that the community has seen in the last few years. These include the arrival of major companies such as Apple, Tesla and Google as well as a burgeoning foodie scene.
“We’ve seen so much success in such a short period of time that we’re able to tell this comeback kid-type of story,” Schieve said. “People are really discovering Reno and all it has to offer.”
Resonance’s annual rankings also include a list of best large cities, which is where Las Vegas was ranked. The top 10 large cities are:
- New York
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- Las Vegas
- San Diego
Las Vegas scored high on four of six main categories, with the rankings saying it has blossomed “into a real city.” Advantages include a slew of attractions, a thriving economy and improving quality of life, according to Resonance.
Gov. Brian Sandoval says Nevada’s good showing is no coincidence. Sandoval pointed to just how bleak things were during the recession and how the downturn forced the state to take a more holistic approach to an economy that placed most of its eggs in the gaming and tourism basket at the time. This includes an increased focus on economic development, technology as well as education to modernize Nevada’s workforce.
“I remember (when Reno was being called) Detroit of the West and we’ve really come far in the last seven years,” Sandoval said. “We’ve completely diversified the state and positioned ourselves for the new economy by investing in economic development and investing in our universities and we’re starting to see all the benefits of that.
At the same time, Sandoval also acknowledged the state’s challenges. Reno and Las Vegas, for example, placed low on the listing’s prosperity rankings, which include household income. This makes attracting high-paying jobs a top priority so residents can afford area homes, Sandoval said. The state is also investing billions in infrastructure to help Reno and Las Vegas handle the sharp growth that both areas are seeing as more people find out about Nevada.
“People are starting to discover what we all know, that this is an incredible place to live and raise a family,” Sandoval said. “We're in the midst of a Renaissance but what's important is that it's sustainable.”
Resonance’s Fair says the prosperity issue is something shared by many other cities that are seeing significant growth while incomes fail to keep pace at the same rate.
“In time, we believe that will catch up as more companies are drawn to the qualities that a city offers,” Fair said.
Schieve says the city is working with different partners to address Reno’s housing affordability issue. The city, for example, has issued more building permits than it ever has since 1983 and is also looking at ways to further streamline the process for things like zoning as it looks into different products such as casitas and tiny homes in order to provide a wide range of offerings to residents based on their needs, Schieve said. The city is also working with the University of Nevada, Reno on a housing study that looks at the specific needs of the community.
“We are seeing some challenges with a shortage in labor and rising construction costs,” Schieve said. “But the product is coming into the market.”