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Clinton among top 100 places to live

Mississippi’s top spot

For years now, the City of Clinton has proclaimed itself one of the most livable communities not only in Mississippi, but also in the nation. The Clinton Chamber of Commerce’s Web site bluntly states the city is “A Mississippi Most Livable Community.”

Now, the Hinds County city has a “third party” to back up its claim.

Relocate America.com recently released its 2009 “Top 100 Places to Live,” and the City of Clinton was the only Mississippi community to make the list.

“I am delighted that Clinton is recognized as one of the top 100 best places to live in the country,” said Clinton Mayor Rosemary Aultman. “This recognition validates the efforts of our citizens to build a vibrant town with a strong sense of purpose and community spirit, focusing on quality of life amenities such as public safety, parks, excellent schools and quality neighborhoods. Coupled with Clinton High School recently being named one of the top 50 high schools in America, no other city in Mississippi can claim such prestigious designations.”

The editorial team at Relocate America.com, established 12 years ago, selected the winning communities. The group reviewed nominations and selected the top 100 cities based on interviews with local leaders and feedback from residents. Also considered were economic, environmental, education, crime, employment and housing data as well as aesthetics and recreational activities.

Steve Nickerson, president and CEO of Relocate America.com, said his company adopted a different strategy for this year’s ranking due to the recession and woes in the housing and financial sectors. Also considered was communities’ commitment to being good stewards of the environment.

“With the increasing concern on our nation’s economy and recovering housing market, we approached this year’s list with a different lens than in previous years,” Nickerson said. “We concentrated on the outlook for future growth and ability to rebound in the communities that we selected. We looked at the local government and the business leadership in each community as we considered this year’s winners. We selected communities with visionary leaders, improving or thriving economies including housing and realization of ‘green’ initiatives.”

The ranking certainly puts Clinton in unique company. Many of the winners are smaller communities such as Clinton (population 26,000). Pflugerville, Texas, O’Fallon, Mo., Conway, Ark., and Jenks, Okla., are good examples. However, Clinton is also ranked with the likes of Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, Chicago, Ill., Seattle, Wash., and Pittsburgh, Pa.

Relocate America.com pointed to a number of factors that played into Clinton’s ranking. Its low rate of crime, solid fire rating, healthy housing market and exceptional educational system are just a few aspects of the city that the company’s editorial team liked. It was also very impressed with the city’s business climate.

“The Clinton city leaders are committed to making the decisions that will ensure that Clinton continues to be one of Mississippi’s most livable cities,” Relocate America.com wrote. “Clinton has a vibrant economy despite the national economic situation. With very low unemployment, the city has been fortunate to maintain a stable business base while continuing to attract new retail and commercial businesses. As a result, the city has realized an increase in sales tax and ad valorem values since 1993. Currently, three developers, recognized as leaders in the Southeast retail market, are preparing lifestyle center projects for Clinton in anticipation of a turnaround in the national economy.”

Dianne Newman Carson, executive director of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, said she is obviously thrilled with the ranking, but points out that others have also recognized Clinton’s livability. Clinton is designated as a Certified Retirement City by Hometown Mississippi Retirement, a division of the Mississippi Development Authority, and has been selected as a “Most Livable City” two times in the past by the Mississippi Municipal League.

Still, the ranking is an honor, and she said her organization would include it in its promotional material.

Carson added, “We truly believe that Clinton has much to offer families who choose to relocate here and feel confident that they will find everything that they would desire: excellent schools for ages pre-K to doctoral studies; wonderful parks with a wide array of programs and activities; well-maintained infrastructure and streets; a state-of-the-art public library under construction, along with new residential and commercial/retail developments; as well as involved elected officials and business leaders who are committed to an outstanding quality of life.”

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at wally.northway@msbusiness.com.


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