National magazine ranks Niles among best for business, careers

Published 12:44 pm Wednesday, June 27, 2007

By By JAN GRIFFEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES – Despite the lingering sting from recent news of two Niles plant closings, one noted national survey finds Niles is among the country's best small places for business and careers.
No. 140, in fact, up from a 159 ranking last year.
The survey also places Niles in first place among smaller metro markets in Michigan for business and careers.
Forbes' list of the Best Small Places for Business and Careers ranks the Niles area as 140th in the country, based on a list of criteria including proximity to colleges (80th in nation), cost of doing business (133), crime rate (73), availability to culture and leisure activities (50), educational attainment (82), income growth (112), job growth (175) and net migration (144).
In fact, Niles topped all small markets in Michigan. Last year, Battle Creek outranked Niles, but that area came in at 149th place this year.
Niles Mayor Michael McCauslin said the national recognition is gratifying.
"It's outstanding. I think it reflects our commitment to the business community and to people of our community in general," McCauslin said. "We're always working to make Niles one of the best places to live. Making the Forbes list validates our efforts."
Niles City Administrator Terry Eull said the ranking comes as no surprise to him.
"Anytime you get news of being ranked nationally for your community, that's great news. There are lots of great people in the Niles community," he said.
"We're fortunate to be in the southwestern part of the state, fortunate to be part of Michiana. Because we are a part of Michiana, we've not felt some of the woes of other Michigan communities."
Sharon Tyler, executive director of the Southwest Michigan Economic Growth Alliance, said positive national recognition like the Forbes ranking makes her job of recruiting new employers to the Greater Niles area a little easier.
"You know, it does make a difference to prospects, particularly those who are looking at relocating families. They are very interested in quality of life and diversity," she said.
"When we bring a company into the area, they look at schools and all we have to offer. We're a full-service community, and not a lot of communities can say that," Tyler said. "It's great to be in a location where we have access to larger markets, but we don't have to live there. We can get there in a short period of time for the entertainment or other activities, but we can be back home in one day. That's a real plus."