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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Nashua cracks Money’s top 100

NASHUA – We’re a long way from No. 1 these days.

Money Magazine, in its annual ranking of the best places to live in America, has placed Nashua at No. 94. Nashua was awarded the top spot on the list in 1997 and 1987.

This year’s “Best Place to Live in America” is Eden Prairie, Minn. In compiling the list, Money weighs hundreds of small and mid-size cities across the nation.

But Nashuans, take heart: At least it’s better than last year, when Nashua was nowhere to be found on the list of the top 100 places. And Money still deems Nashua worthy of getting its own listing. Another publication, Forbes Magazine, earlier this year lumped Nashua with Manchester and named the combined region the seventh most livable city in the nation.

In February, a Gallup poll ranked the Nashua- Manchester region 92nd out of 162 mid-size and large cities on subjective answers to questions on health and happiness.

Also this year, Nashua stands alone as the only New Hampshire city to make Money’s top 100. Last year, there was Merrimack at No. 43, Hanover at 50, Hooksett at 66 and Concord at 95 on Money’s list.

Only one other time in the past five years did Nashua make the top 100. In 2006, Nashua came in at No. 87.

Minnesota was the big winner this year, grabbing five of the top 20 spots. In New England, Newton, Mass., was the champion, earning No. 3.

“The second largest city in New Hampshire, Nashua is a safe place with a strong school district, making it a great place to raise a family,” Money wrote.

“There’s lots to do: Take a ride along the 17-mile Nashua River Rail Trail, a popular bicycling route that heads straight into the heart of the city. Enjoy sidewalk cafes on tree-lined brick streets, great shopping, and award-winning restaurants.

“Only 40 minutes outside Boston, Nashua provides access to that large job market, as well as employment opportunities at tech firms right in town.”

In compiling the list, Money weighs factors such as financial conditions, education system, housing market, quality of life, weather, leisure and culture and demographic information.

It may seem silly to make a lot of these rankings. Still, Nashua officials got a lot of mileage from the two years it ranked at the top of the list, touting the honor in marketing materials and on road signs.

“Certainly, anytime you make a national list of this sort, it’s a good thing for the city,” said Chris Williams, president of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce.

The list carries clout with businesses looking to relocate and can be used to market the city, he said.

But Williams added that he’s high on Nashua with its quality of life and business-friendly atmosphere, qualities he believes “make us a top 100 lister every year” regardless of whether the city is recognized by an outside source or not.

“I think that it’s no accident that Nashua consistently ranks high in the list of top places,” Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said.

While Lozeau noted, “I’m really pleased to have some of this happen on my watch,” she emphasized that it’s not because of the mayor, or the Board of Aldermen, or the School District or housing market that Nashua fares so well.

“It’s a combination of everybody bringing something to the table,” she said.

Nashua wasn’t far behind the top areas on the list in many of the factors Money examined, Lozeau said.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashuatelegraph.com.