Best Baseball Cities

A baseball lies in a freshly fallen leaves

October!  The most special month of the year for every baseball fan.  The World Series determines the best baseball team, but did you ever wonder which place can lay claim to the best baseball city?

We wondered too, and thought about what it means to be a great baseball town.  We decided it’s more than wins and losses, attendance, and championships.  It’s where there’s a batting cage in every backyard, kids sleep with their mitts, and families spend their entire weekend at the Little League field.

We realized that every big-league ballplayer represents thousands of kids who once dreamed playing in the Big Show.

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Drive 95 miles per hour – Save 12 minutes

a highway sign in Texas showing the 85 mph speed limit

Texas will soon have the highest posted speed limit in the United States (heck, in the Western Hemisphere. Take that, Honduras.) – 85 miles per hour.

In November, Texas will open a new toll road on a heavily-used corridor between Austin and San Antonio, where the current highway (I-35) has a speed limit of 65 miles per hour. The higher speed limit is expected to appeal to drivers looking to shave some time off their drive. The new toll road will look especially attractive since the old highway’s speed limit will be reduced to 55 miles per hour. Pretty clever.

But how much time will drivers of the new toll road actually save? Not as much as you might think.

First, the new road is pretty short, only 41 miles long. Let’s assume that people will travel 10 miles per hour over each posted limit, not uncommon in Texas, and maybe even a bit conservative.

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America’s Coolest Cities

rock and roll musician Lou Reed

This July was the hottest on record in the U.S. and 2012 is on track to be our hottest year ever. You better believe Americans are cranking the A/C and heading for the swimming holes.

But when it comes to my “cool cities” study, I’m talking about the other kind of cool.  The sunglasses, Levi’s and t-shirt James Dean cool.

I worked with Forbes with their article to find where the youth of America are headed, where it’s “happening.”  Would you believe Houston comes out on top?  Last year H-town sported a vigorous 2.6% job growth while welcoming over 50,000 new residents to the area, many of them young professionals.

We looked at recreational opportunities, such as amount of green space, golfing and skiing, and pro and college sports teams.

We also used my Diversity Index, which measures the likelihood that someone you meet will be of different race or ethnicity.  Higher diversity translates to a greater number of cool stores, events, and eateries.

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A Cost of Growth

In the study of cities, getting bigger is usually seen as desirable if not inevitible.  So interesting issues are raised when growth starts to bring with it some questionable effects.

image: http://williamlitchfield.wordpress.com/

Austin, Texas has been a sanctuary for pickers, singers and painters for generations.  The problem is, the creative class is starting to get squeezed out.

People move to Austin because it’s so cool and hip, but the influx has pushed the cost of living UP and the artists OUT.

Now Austin is the priciest place to live in Texas.  The fancy $500,000 condos must be the target of the famous “Keep Austin Weird” slogan on the back of every VW van down there.

It’s a tricky chicken-and-egg situation when prosperity rides into town with unaffordability as its sidekick.  Austin is stepping up admirably, though – the city has spent $55 million on affordable housing in the past five years.

There’s an article all about it on the NPR site:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2011/12/23/143725019/austin-the-brooklyn-of-the-south?ps=mh_frhdl1

“Military Retirement” study garners major media coverage

Our Best Cities for Military Retirement and Second Careers study is a making a big splash in the media.  The team at Fleishman-Hillard PR orchestrated a great campaign for our USAA-sponsored study.

A big front-page above-the-fold feature in USA Today:  Job-Seeking Veterans.

Forbes.com featured a two-page story and a slide show, and the American Morning show on CNN spent over four minutes discussing our results.

Articles on news sites across the country:

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Military Retirement – Second Careers

Coinciding with Veteran’s Day, we just completed an interesting study about the best places in the U.S. for military retirees to start a second career.  Since most veterans retire from service in their 30’s or 40’s, they have plenty of time to start a new professional chapter in their lives.

source: allamericanpatriots.com

So what are the best places to enter the civilian job sector?  To help us find out, we partnered with USAA (a financial services provider) and Military.com (the largest military and veteran membership organization).  We looked at factors such as affordability, unemployment rate, prevalence of military skill related jobs, and number of veteran-owned businesses.  But we didn’t stop there.

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Washington Post – DC Gains Urban Hipsters

I was asked by the Post to explain why the DC metro has suddenly gained so many 25-34 year olds.  According to the Census Bureau, DC is now right up there with hipster havens like Austin and Portland (Oregon).

DC Area Gains Young Adults

Reporter Carol Morello asked me, “Does this mean Washington is now ‘cool’?”

My answer was, “Umm, sorry, no.”  I explained, it’s a simple case of economics.  The DC area has had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S. along large metro areas.  Young people are flocking to where the jobs are.

Bill Frey, of the Brookings Institution, also chimed in, agreeing that it’s the economy, but also stating that DC has a “certain vibe.”

My quote in the article spoke about each place has its own identity or brand, and Washington’s is one of government and power.  “I don’t know if you want your seat of government to be too cool and quirky.”

Sort of like, you don’t want to find out your heart surgeon also does stand-up comedy.