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Top 10 Best U.S. Cities for Business

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Despite increased competition from around the globe, American cities are still on top in their ability to attract business, capital, talent and tourists, according to a research report commissioned by Citigroup.

Called “Hot Spots,” the research report conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit shows that U.S. cities still dominate the rankings, with the 10 most competitive U.S. cities ranking in the world’s top 30. The report ranks the world’s 120 most competitive cities on criteria that include economic strength, human and physical capital, financial maturity and global appeal.

“Economic dynamism is definitely rising elsewhere, especially in Asian cities, but U.S. and European cities have legacy advantages that give them a strong competitive edge,” said Leo Abruzzese, the EIU’s global forecasting director, in a statement. “In particular, these developed cities are better at attracting top talent from across the world.”

With a combined population of about 750 million, the 120 cities ranked in “Hot Spots” represent approximately 29% of the global economy and generated a combined GDP of $20.24 trillion in 2011.

The United States’ 10 best cities for business are:

Philadelphia's Liberty Bell10. Philadelphia

This 10th most competitive city in America ranks 30th worldwide. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s “Hot Spots” report commissioned by Citi, Philadelphia ranks as the world’s 44th city in terms of economic strength, but its human capital ranking of 16 and institutional effectiveness lift the City of Brotherly Love’s overall ranking. But Philadelphia has a “global appeal” ranking of only 11.7 out of a possible 100–seems the world has little love for Philly.

A view of Seattle's Space Needle9. Seattle

The largest city in the U.S. Northwest, Seattle, is the 29th most competitive city in the world. Home of Microsoft’s headquarters, Seattle gets an economic strength ranking of 28th globally. It ranks No. 1 among U.S. cities for human capital. As for its global appeal, Seattle is ranked 59th, with a 9.2 score out of a possible 100.

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders on the march8. Dallas

Sharing a worldwide competitiveness ranking of 25th with Vienna, Dallas has an economic strength score of 23, a physical capital ranking of 44th (a ranking that Dallas shares with Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi) and a social and cultural character ranking of 31st, which puts it alongside another big Texas city, Houston.

Houston skyline7. Houston

Houston is the seventh most competitive city in the United States and the 23rd most competitive in the world, along with Copenhagen. The fourth most populous city in the nation gets an economic strength ranking of 18 and a financial maturity ranking of 33. Neither Houston nor Dallas received a “global appeal” ranking on the EIU “Hot Spots” list.

Hollywood Sign overlooking Los Angeles (Photo: AP)6. Los Angeles

This California city of the stars is 19th in terms of global competitiveness, according to the report commissioned by Citigroup. However, it ranks a high No. 2 for social and cultural character. Los Angeles’ overall global appeal gets a score of 20.5 out of a possible 100, which gives it a ranking of 30.

San Francisco, City by the Bay5. San Francisco

Along with Geneva, San Francisco is ranked 13th among the world’s most competitive cities. The iconic Northern California city is ranked ninth for human capital worldwide, 10th for financial maturity, 22nd for social and cultural character, 31st for economic strength and 34th for physical capital. San Francisco’s global appeal is ranked 43rd, along with Vancouver.

Historic Faneuil Hall, Boston4. Boston

One of America’s most historic cities, Boston has a ranking of 10th worldwide overall and for institutional effectiveness. (Indeed, 12 American cities share the No. 10 spot for institutional effectiveness globally, while the No. 1 top city in the world for institutional effectiveness is Zurich, followed by Geneva.) Boston’s financial maturity ranking also is 10th worldwide, and though its economic strength ranking is only 46th, its human capital is ranked 11th.

Chicago River at night3. Chicago

Chicago, the City of Big Shoulders and hometown of President Barack Obama, is the ninth most competitive city in the world. Its social and cultural character also is world class, with a No. 5 ranking globally, and a respectable No. 17 for human capital. Chicago’s global appeal is a solid 24th worldwide (London is No. 1 for global appeal), with a 22.1 score out of a possible 100.

U.S. Capitol Building, Washington2. Washington

The nation’s capital city is the eighth most competitive city in the world. Both Washington’s financial maturity and institutional effectiveness are ranked 10th, even though the government city’s social and cultural character is ranked 22nd and its economic strength just 23rd. But Washington’s global appeal is the second greatest for a U.S. city, next to New York.

New York Harbor1. New York

New York ranks as the No. 1 most competitive city in the United States as well as the world.

“Today the Economist Intelligence Unit has confirmed what New Yorkers have long known: that if you want to start a business, create a new product, or have a big idea, New York City is the place to be,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in a statement.

New York’s overall score brought it to the No. 1 position, but other global cities were ranked in the top position in the various categories as follows: Economic strength, Tianjin, China; physical capital, Vancouver; financial maturity, Zurich; human capital, Dublin; global appeal, London.

Eleven of the top 30 cities are European (worldwide rankings in parentheses): London (2nd), Paris (4th), Zurich (7th), Frankfurt (11th), Geneva (joint 13th), Amsterdam (17th), Stockholm (joint 20th), Copenhagen (joint 23rd), Vienna (joint 25th), Dublin (27th) and Madrid (28th).


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