Youngstown ranks No. 5 for raising a family
By Tom McParland
The city enjoyed some positive press this week when Forbes Magazine named the metro area as the fifth-best in the country for raising a family.
It’s not the first time Youngstown made an appearance on a prominent Forbes list. The business magazine ranked Youngstown No. 4 on the 2012 version of its “Best Cities for Raising a Family” list.
A year ago, Forbes awarded Youngstown a No. 20 ranking on its less-desirable list of America’s most-miserable cities, based on nine factors that included violent crime, unemployment, foreclosures and taxes.
But the magazine eschewed some of the more-volatile factors — such as unemployment and weather — in favor of more family- oriented measurements in Wednesday’s ranking.
“The Youngstown metro area is still near the bottom on the national income ladder, but it also boasts low cost of living, short commutes, and solid school and crime statistics outside the city proper,” Forbes said of the city.
In total, the magazine evaluated the country’s 100 largest metro regions based on median household income, cost of living, housing affordability, homeownership, commute, crime rate and local school quality.
A top selling point for the area is its low cost of living, which makes it an enticing community for young families, said Tiffany Sokol, program coordinator at the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp.
YNDC focuses on revitalizing targeted city neighborhoods and also provides planning services for Youngstown.
“For the cost of living, you really can’t beat the amenities that are available here,” she said. “There’s a lot of opportunity to be a homeowner from a young age and increase your stability.”
Tom Humphries, president and CEO of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, said there are other factors at play beyond the hard metrics Forbes considered.
”The things that underlie all that are the friendliness and attitude of the people,” he said. “You don’t teach that.”
Favorable mentions for Youngstown have been increasing in the past few years as the area has benefited from prominent investments in manufacturing and the developing Utica Shale play.
The chamber, which tracks Youngstown stories in the national and international media, said the city is now featured in an average of 600 stories per year.
The attention bodes well not just for Youngstown, but also the surrounding townships and cities, Humphries said.
“We are all branded — good or bad — by the name of Youngstown,” he said. But “we are a melting pot, and we are larger than just the city of Youngstown.”