Global Vibe - Global Trade Magazine
  October 7th, 2015 | Written by

Global Vibe

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska
Population: 300,950
Unemployment: 6.1 percent
Fortune 500 Companies: 0

Anchorage, sandwiched between Canada and Russia, is one of the U.S.’s most diverse cities with a significant number of immigrants from troubled nations such as Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Bhutan relocating there. Attracted by the cleanest air and most park acres per person of any city in the U.S., some have started businesses, including restaurants serving authentic food from their homelands, through a local incentive program that offers millions in loans to small businesses.

AUSTIN, Texas
Population: 885,400
Unemployment: 3.3 percent
Fortune 500 Companies: 2

The home of the University of Texas is America’s “It” city, a progressive and creative hub. At one time that just meant music at its iconic South By Southwest festival; now it means all things imaginative and innovative—music, film, food, tech. Home to Dell and National Instruments, Austin’s number of tech startups is twice the national average, which not only attracts lots of young professionals and college grads but Apple, Google and Facebook, who all have offices there.
 
BOSTON, Massachusetts
Population: 645,966
Unemployment: 4.3 percent
Fortune 500 Companies: 2

America’s first global city, 19th century Boston, the “Athens of America,” was the seat of American intellectualism and letters. It remains a hub of higher education with more than 100 colleges and universities in the Greater Boston area, attracting more than 250,000 students, many from foreign countries. Today, those students are as likely to make their name in innovation and technology—Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg both went to college here. And then dropped out.

BRIDGEPORT, Connecticut
Population: 147,216
Unemployment: 5.2 percent
Fortune 500 Companies: 0

Though there are none in Bridgeport itself, the city is within 100 miles or closer to virtually all of Connecticut’s 17 Fortune 500 companies. It’s not surprising that residents, the majority of whom work in the financial sector, were paid nearly three-times as much as peers nationwide. More than 45 percent of adults in the area had at least a bachelor’s degree, higher than the statewide rate of 37.2 percent and also that of every other metro area in the state.

HONOLULU, Hawai’i
Population: 390,738
Unemployment: 4.1 percent
Fortune 500 Companies: 0

Fittingly, Oahu is called “The Gathering Place,” as it and its largest city, Honolulu, have become an international meeting place for the U.S. and Asia. Located about 2,500 miles from Los Angeles and 3,800 miles from Tokyo, Honolulu is increasingly seeing its business, cultural and culinary landscape affected by its unique position on the globe. So important has the city become to Asia that nations such as Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Micronesia maintain full-time consulates there.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee
Population: 183,270
Unemployment: 5.9 percent
Fortune 500 Companies: 0

Home to the 1982 World’s Fair—where touch screens and Cherry Coca-Cola debuted—Knoxville rates high on a lot of best lists—value, entrepreneurial spirit, best for business and career. That’s in part due to a diversity of talent and thinking brought to town by the University of Tennessee and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, an internationally recognized Department of Energy lab home to several of the world’s largest supercomputers.

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky
Population: 609,893
Unemployment: 4.7 percent
Fortune 500 Companies: 3

Home to America’s favorite horse race (Kentucky Derby), chicken (Kentucky Fried Chicken) and baseball bat (Louisville Slugger), Louisville is quintessentially ‘Murican. But, over the years, the town and its economy have broadened: the local airport is the hub of UPS’s considerable cargo and delivery operations; renowned in medical research and treatment, two of the three Fortune 500 companies based there—Humana and Kindred Healthcare—are medically based. The third, fast food giant Yum! Brands … not so much.

OAKLAND, California
Population: 406,253
Unemployment: 4.7 percent
Fortune 500 Companies: 1

Like Brooklyn to the east, Oakland has become a less-expensive, hipper alternative to a very expensive (chillier) neighbor, i.e. San Francisco. Home to one of the nation’s great ports, hipsters, techsters and a diverse group of immigrants are creating what has been called an incubator for great restaurants, performance spaces, literary and art scenes. In fact, when Lonely Planet ranked its top 10 places in the U.S. international travelers should visit, California’s Bay Area was represented by Oakland.

TULSA, Oklahoma
Population: 398,121
Unemployment: 4.8 percent
Fortune 500 Companies: 3

The buckle of the Bible Belt and one of the historic and significant hubs of the U.S. oil and gas industry, Tulsa continues to evolve. Though the three Fortune 500 companies based there all are energy-related—ONEOK, NGL Energy Partners and Williams Cos.—the local economy has done a good job of broadening, one reason it has added nearly 30,000 jobs since the recession. About a quarter of the student body at private University of Tulsa are international students.

WASHINGTON, D.C.
Population: 646,449
Unemployment: 4.9 percent
Fortune 500 Companies: 2

Chock full of seats of power, institutes of high learning and awesome bars (we have our priorities), you’re not only surrounded by power when you’re in Washington but it’s just a straight shot up the I-195 to Baltimore (40 miles), Philadelphia (139 miles) and New York (224 miles). When ranking the top 50 small cities in the U.S., Money Magazine named four (North Laurel, Md., Damascus, Md., Urbana, Md., Vienna, Va.) that are part of the Greater D.C. region.

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