Vancouver named in Top 100 Best Places to Live

What does the CNN/Money designation say about business recruitment?

CNN/Money and Money magazine have named Vancouver in the top 100 Best Places to Live 2005. The study eschewed the typical federal are designations and instead spent months whittling down the selections from 40,000 cities in a database kept by research firm OnBoard.

Eliminating cities under 14,000 people and with below-median household income, population growth and real estate appreciation was a start. Living long distances from an airport or teaching hospital took out another several hundred. Down to 850 cities, 100 finalists were chosen by review of economic, education, safety factors and then looking at arts, leisure and park space, according to CNN/Money’s Web site.

Vancouver, and the surrounding area, totaling 284,295 people, ranked as the 91st best place to live. Does that mean it is also the best place to do business? Some of the criteria used to point to livability also help recruit businesses here, said Pam Neal, director of business recruitment at the Columbia River Economic Development Council.

“Businesses certainly look at quality of life,” she said, including school, housing and recreation. “It’s one of the criteria businesses look at for their employees, but I wouldn’t say it’s the bottom line.”

The CREDC’s target industries like high tech rely heavily on local universities to help with training, continuing education and recruitment. An airport, she said, is “nice for livability, but necessary for business.” Crime rate is not something businesses typically ask about, while recreation interests vary.

“For Chinese companies, we provide additional information on cultural (amenities),” said Neal. “They like to feel welcomed.”

As far, as housing is concerned, Neal said if a company is coming from Southern California, they are going to see an automatic drop of 30 percent to 40 percent in the price of housing. But companies want a range, she said, “because they need to fulfill their needs for executives and production workers.”

Neal said this was the first time that she hadn’t seen Vancouver lumped in with the Portland metro area, and she views this as significant. Typically, the statistics are culled from the metropolitan statistical area, a federal designation that includes Portland, Salem and Vancouver, or the six county area that includes five Portland metro counties and Clark County.

To find out more about how CNN/Money compiled its list of the Best Places to Live 2005 and to learn about Vancouver’s quality of life, visit