A City Index: Measurement of a City's Attractiveness

Ralph H. Todd, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Review of Applied Urban Research, Vol. 5, No. 7


The most commonly recognized factors that attract industrial investment to a city are those with impact upon sales and profit. Size of market; availability and price of labor, materials and service; and proximity to supportive industry all weigh heavily. In addition, location decision makers must consider the conditions that relate to living in the new area: a city's overall economic condition, its demographic and physical environment, the seriousness of its crime problems, and its recreational and educational opportunities. Similarly, the decision may reflect acceptance of the premise that such conditions as a city's geographic location, its population size or growth rate or its age re late to its attractiveness.

The attractiveness of one city over another clearly has subjective aspects that do not lend themselves to measurement. This paper does not present data on attitudes or opinions about how a city's residents perceive their city. The intention is to provide a yardstick with which to compare conditions in one city with those in other cities. It is expected that such findings will both stimulate and aid decision makers to improve those conditions of a city that make it a less attractive place in which to invest, work and live. A related use will be that made of the data by potential investors making locational decisions. The assumption inherent in the reliance on objective data rather than subjective perceptions of a city's attractiveness is that the measurable conditions do in fact determine how well satisfied the residents are with those conditions.