June 27, 2012 / 4:43 PM / in 5 years

Provo, Raleigh ranked as best U.S. business cities

A student walks past the entrance of Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo February 16, 2012. U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney graduated from BYU in 1971. REUTERS/George Frey

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Provo, Utah, the home of Brigham Young University, displaced Raleigh, North Carolina, as the best U.S. city for business in a new ranking released on Wednesday.

The third-largest city in Utah, located about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City, topped the Forbes.com list thanks to its robust job growth and low crime rate.

“Provo had job growth of 3 percent in 2011, which was third in the United States, and they ranked tenth-lowest in crime,” said Mike Ozanian, an executive editor at Forbes.

“Brigham Young University provides a stabilizing presence to their economy,” he added.

The university is the third-largest private college by enrollment in the United States, and had 13 start-up businesses in 2010, behind only the University of Utah and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Raleigh, N.C. was ranked second in the list, with a rapidly growing population driven by projected job growth of 2.9 percent, Ozanian said.

It had been among the top three metro areas on the annual ranking since 2003 and fell from No. 1 spot because living costs rose to 5 percent above the national average.

Nearby schools including Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina provide a highly educated workforce.

Fort Collins, Colorado, Des Moines, Iowa, and Denver, Colo. rounded out the top five cities on the list.

Seven states have cities in the rankings’ top 10.

“One thing that comes out at first glance is that region doesn’t define results,” Ozanian said.

Forbes.com looked at the 200 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, which ranged from the New York City area with 11.7 million people to Bremerton, Washington, home to 252,000, Ozanian explained.

To compile the ranking it considered factors such as job growth, costs and income growth, educational attainment, highly-ranked colleges in the area, crime rates and cultural opportunities.

Though Texas didn’t have any cities in the top five, it has five in the top 25, including Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Houston.

While Austin, Tex., was ninth, the only thing preventing it from reaching the top ranking was its expensive living and business costs, Forbes.com said.

North Carolina was a close second with four cities in the top 25.

Forbes.com also included their “Bottom Five” cities, three of which are in California. The fifth-worst city, Stockton, Calif., filed for bankruptcy Tuesday.

The full list can be found at Forbes.com/best-places.

Reporting By Joseph O'Leary; editing by Patricia Reaney; Desking by Andrew Hay

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