By Jennifer M. Sims
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeens limited cultural offerings pulled the city down 22 spots on Forbes magazines 2004 list of best small cities to do business.
The Killeen metro area, with a listed population of 319,000, fell to the 111th spot compared to 167 other small metro areas from across the nation. Killeen was one of the largest metro areas to make the small places list. The area was ranked 89th in 2003.
The fall in ranking is primarily due to the areas poor standing in the newly added culture and leisure index, which considers area attractions such as museums, theaters, sports teams and golf courses to determine the rankings, said Kurt Badenhausen, a writer for Forbes magazine who was involved with the project.
Killeen ranked 144th in the culture index, which was determined by Sterlings Best Places.
Mayor Maureen Jouett said the low ranking is a sign that Killeen has failed to market itself effectively.
That just tells me were not doing a good job with our image, Jouett said.
She pointed to the citys cultural diversity, the many festivals held in the area and local Vive Les Arts theater as examples of the citys cultural offerings.
Councilman Dick Young said he was not surprised by the culture and leisure ranking. He said that council has focused much of its attention on the citys needs, such as infrastructure improvements.
Young said that the city has made some attempts to address the issue, however, such as making improvements to the city golf course and looking at options to revitalize the downtown area. But he emphasized that it is a slow process.
At some point those efforts are going to be successful; its just a matter of when, Young said.
The overall rankings on the list are determined based on nine separate categories. The most heavily weighted areas are educational attainment, which looks at the number of residents with undergraduate degrees, and the cost of doing business, which considers aspects such as taxes, energy costs and rent. The culture and leisure index was new this year. The list was released in May.
Killeen garnered the 66th slot in cost of doing business, up seven from the previous year. The city maintained its standing at the 111th spot in education attainment.
In other 2004 categories, Killeen ranked 29th in income growth; 62nd in job growth; 90th in crime, a drop from 71st in 2003; 114th in cost of living, which now includes factors such as utilities, transportation and food in addition to the cost of housing; 134th in advanced degrees; and 150th in migration, which compares the number of people coming to the area versus the number of people leaving.
Killeen did not fare well compared with the other Texas cities on the list, either. Of the 17 Texas cities included on the small places list, Killeen which was by far the largest was No. 12. Bryan and Brazoria topped the Texas list, and Odessa and Victoria were the lowest ranked Texas cities. At the No. 6 spot on the Texas list and 80th overall, Waco outshined Killeen.
Sioux Falls, S.D., took the top spot overall, followed by Fargo, N.D.; Iowa City, Iowa; Lincoln, Neb.; and Fayetteville, Ark.
The lowest ranked city on the list was Yakima, Wash., followed by Vineland, N.J.; Mansfield, Ohio; Sumter, S.C.; and Victoria.
Austin garned the No. 3 spot on the large metro list, outscoring Houston at No. 15, Fort Worth at No. 23, Dallas at the No. 29 spot and San Antonio, which ranked 55th.
Contact Jennifer M. Sims at email@example.com