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City honored with Businessweek title

Dec. 23, 2012 @ 06:43 PM

HURRICANE — The City of Hurricane got a bit of an early Christmas surprise this week, when it learned that it was named the Best Place to Raise Kids in West Virginia by Bloomberg Businessweek.

Mayor Scott Edwards said officials in the city had not been aware of the ranking until the piece was published Tuesday. Then again, Edwards said, their top-place distinction isn’t all that surprising.

“I feel really good about it, but I kind of knew in my heart that this is one of the best places to raise kids. I’ve been to other towns, other cities —  bigger cities — but I’ve always known that Hurricane is much better.”

For the ranking, Bloomberg Businessweek and Bloomberg Rankings focused on small towns, evaluating more than 3,200 places nationwide with populations from 5,000 to 50,000.

“Many young, working parents — tired of wheeling strollers onto the subway—have considered leaving the big city for a more family-friendly place, even as urban living gains popularity,” the magazine said.

Bloomberg considered metrics such as public school performance, safety, housing costs, commute time, poverty, adults’ educational attainment, share of households with children, and diversity. It also used median income and unemployment data to gauge the job market.

Bloomberg then named one town in each state as the Best Place to Raise Kids.

Edwards, who is in his second term as mayor, said many factors help make Hurricane a great place to live and raise a family, but all of those factors step from the type of people who call Hurricane home.

“I feel Hurricane is good because of multiple things,” Edwards said. “No. 1, the people — the type of people who live here. No. 2, law enforcement. We have great police and low crime. No. 3, Our school system is top-notch.

“Most of the people share the same high moral values,” Edwards said. “A lot of them go to church, they are community people, friendly people. You go to some places, neighbors don’t know their neighbors. (Hurricane) is just a good place to be; we’re close to the two largest cities in West Virginia, so there is a lot to do, but we don’t have to live every day in the hustle-bustle.”

Edwards said local businesses also play a major role in maintaining the quality of life in Hurricane. He said the city is able to provide annual celebrations and children’s activities — at no cost to residents — thanks entirely to donations made by area businesses.

“I can name 20 business right now that, if I would go to them and ask, I would get a check for sure, because they know it’s going to the kids,” Edwards said.

And that generosity is reflective of the values shared by city residents, he said.

“The type of people really make the city — not just the number of people, but the type of people. For the most part, the same type of people have lived here for years — for generations — and we want to keep it that way. We don’t want that to change. We want it to be, when you go to Walmart or a convenience store, you know people and you talk to them. (Hurricane residents) have the same type of moral values; in their hearts, they feel the same about a lot of things.”

Bloomberg used data from GreatSchools.org, the FBI, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The list excludes places where the median family income exceeds $115,866, the lower limit for the wealthiest 20 percent of U.S. families.