Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ohio Cities Fare Poorly on Worldwide Quality of Life Rankings

Ohio Cities Fare Poorly on Worldwide Quality of Life Rankings

Only Ohio City Listed is Cleveland

by John Michael Spinelli

June 16, 2009

COLUMBUS, OHIO: Analysis of a report that ranked 215 cities worldwide on their quality of life (QOL) and infrastructure showed that European cities again dominated, with only a handful of American cities making the list. For Ohio, whose major cities have drifted down instead of up in recent years, Cleveland was the only city to make the list for both QOL and infrastructure.

According to Mercer, a leading global provider of consulting, outsourcing and investment services owned by Marsh and McLennan Companies, its 2009 Quality of Living Global City Rankings Survey showed Vienna, Austria as the highest for overall quality of living and Baghdad, Iraq, the worst.

With respect to city infrastructure, Singapore ranked first with Baghdad again bringing up the rear.

For North American cities, Canadian cities still dominated the top of the index, with Vancouver (#4) retaining the top spot and Honolulu (#29) being the top-ranked U.S. city for QOL. Washington D.C. and New York ranked 44 and 49 respectively. For purposes of scoring, New York was the base city.

In the list of 215 cities based on QOL, the U.S. scored rankings for San Francisco (#30), Boston (#37), Portland, Oregon (#48), Washington, D.C. and Chicago tied (#44), New York (#49), Seattle (#50), Lexington, KY (#51),Pittsburgh (#52), Winston Salem (#53), Los Angeles and Cleveland tied (#59), Minneapolis (#61), Houston (#62), Miami #63), St. Louis and Detroit tied (#65) and Atlanta (#67). No other U.S. cities made the grade.

For its ranking of cities based on infrastructure, Singapore was first, Munich second and Copenhagen placed third. Infrastructure was based on electricity, supply, water availability, telephone and mail services, public transport, traffic congestion and the range of international flights from local airports. For fans of Ohio, this adds some fuel to the discussion of whyNCR moved from Dayton to Atlanta, which was the first U.S. city to make the list, coming in at #15.

It was followed by Washington D.C. (#24), Chicago (#28), New York (#32), Boston (#33), Honolulu (#41), Miami ($47), Houston (#49), Seattle ($49), San Francisco (#52), Minneapolis (#56), Los Angeles (#57),Pittsburgh (#61), Detroit (#62), Portland, Oregon and St. Louis tied (#63), Winston Salem (#66), Lexington, KY (#68) and Cleveland (#69) being the rear guard of U.S cities.

Performed to help governments and major companies place employees on international assignments, Slagin Parakatil, senior researcher at Mercer, said, "As a result of the current financial crisis, multinationals are looking to review their international assignment policies with a view to cutting costs."

On the topic of infrastructure, Parakatil said it has a "significant effect on the quality of life of living experienced by expatriates" and that while it is often taken for granted when functioning to a high standard, "a city's infrastructure can generate severe hardships when it is lacking." He noted that companies need to provide adequate allowances to compensate their international workers for these and other hardships."

Even though Cleveland has garnered the ignominious honor of being ranked high among America's poorest big cities on several occasions, it can be proud that it stands head and shoulders above all other Ohio cities, none of which made Mercer's top 215 city list.

As Ohio seeks to restore jobs and prosperity to itself, it should work to bolster those QOL criteria that others see as important. Otherwise, we'll be talking a good game without actually taking the field to make it happen.

But with Ohio's next biennial budget in free-fall, it's little wonder the state will have a decreasing ability to follow through on larger statewide policy goals, leaving locals, strapped for cash themselves, to figure out how to keep their boats floating with so many leaks to tend to.

Mercer press contacts said the data was largely collected between September and November of 2008 and is regularly updated to take account of changing circumstances. In particular, Mercer said the assessments are revised in the case of any new developments. The Mercer database contains more than 420 cities, ,but only 215 have been considered for the QOL 2008 ranking in order to compare them from one year to the next.

John Michael Spinelli is a Certified Economic Development Financing Professional, business and travel writer and former credentialed Ohio Statehouse political reporter. He is registered to lobby in Ohio and is the Director of Ohio Operations for Tubular Rail Inc. Spinelli on Assignment is syndicated by Newstex.com, can be followed on Twitter at OhioNewsBureau and available for subscription to Kindle owners. To send a news tip or make comment, email ohionewsbureau@gmail.com

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