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President's Message

September 2021

From the Business Perspective Newsletter

What's behind those "best of" lists?

Overland Park is consistently recognized as one of the most livable cities in the nation by national consumer and trade publications. Sometimes people ask me how we end up on these lists. Do we apply? Do we purchase ads in magazines or on websites in exchange for a listing? Do we lobby editors? The answer is no. Most of the time we find out about Overland Park’s inclusion on a list when you do, and generally by seeing a posting on social media.

While I’ve never selected a place to move based on a list, it doesn’t hurt when your community reliably is in the “best of class” for those quality of life markers that are decision points for relocation for both companies and individuals. Inclusion on these lists affirms the reputation Overland Park has built over the last 60 years and, depending upon the list and the methodology, can provide some third-party verification. Just this year, we’ve had some excellent press:

  • Best Places to Raise a Family (#1) – WalletHub, June 1
  • Best Places to Live in America (#4) – Niche, March 16
  • Top Cities Where Women Are Successful (#5) – SmartAsset, April 21
  • Best Places to Rent in America (#3) – WalletHub, July 21
  • Best Places to Start a Career (#8) – WalletHub, May 17
  • Best Places for Single Dads (#16) – WalletHub, June 14

Looking at the methodology of the “Best Places to Raise a Family” listing provides an example of the interesting insight into the type of factors used to develop these lists. This one utilized 48 weighted metrics across five key dimensions – Family Fun, Health & Safety, Education & Child Care, Affordability and Socio-economics.  Not only did OP rank #1 overall, of the eight “best city vs. worst city” categories, we ranked in the top five best cities of 182 in three of them - #1, Highest Median Family Salary (adjusted for cost of living); #4 - Most Affordable Housing; #3 – Lowest % of Families Living in Poverty.

You could analyze these lists for days if you wanted to, asking whether the criteria or weightings were appropriate. I find these lists more appropriate for benchmarking. We can’t take them too seriously, but instead should learn by examining the other cities on the lists and the metrics in which they are excelling. If we don’t measure up in a category that’s a concern, we should address it as a community, not because of a list that we may never see again, but because that issue impacts the quality of our lives and our economy.

I believe Overland Park IS the best place in America to live. And run your business. And raise a family. I don’t need a ranked list to tell me that, but it’s nice when these lists help our Chamber team spread the word to the rest of the country.

Now, what do I do with that #31 out of 200 ranking for Best Cities to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse?

Tracey Osborne Oltjen

written by

Tracey Osborne Oltjen, CCE, IOM

President & CEO