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Washington, D.C., Tops 2011 List of "Best Cities for Business"

Washington, D.C., tops the 2011 list of 102 metro areas identified in the "Best Cities for Business" MarketWatch study published by the Wall Street Journal. This is the second straight year the nation's capital has taken the first-place position in the study's five-year history.

MarketWatch's analysis examined multiple types of economic data to gauge how much business is concentrated in a region, and if those companies are helping its local economy grow.

Below is a synopsis of what the study said about the top 10 winning metros: (Read the entire "Best Cities for Business" story

  • Washington, D.C. ~ "The nation's capital has it all: a plentiful supply of companies large and small, a strong economy, low jobless rates and, of course, a huge governmental infrastructure to lean on during the hard times. For some companies it helps to have the world's most powerful government in your backyard."

  • Boston, MA ~ The city gets high marks for both "a high concentration of companies and a strong economy. The New England hub is home to a number of old-line companies.... as well as numerous medical-device makers.... and biotech players." Boston is "also considered one of the best breeders of talent, with arguably the strongest array of universities in the U.S."

  • Des Moines, IA ~ It remains among the top five for the third year in a row, "scoring solidly in just about all categories except long-term growth in economic output and personal income growth over the last year... Small companies are able to flourish while larger firms can thrive and continue to get a healthy supply of talent."

  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN ~ "The Twin Cities region continues to beat all others in the number of companies it packs into its borders."

  • Omaha, NE ~ MarketWatch said it would be "No. 1 if the survey looked at the best cities for jobs..Omaha is a world beater when it comes to keeping its unemployment rate down."

  • Oklahoma City, OK ~ The city had the third-best overall economy, behind Washington and Durham, NC, "but it ranked 27th in company concentration, and is host to mostly energy firms."

  • Salt Lake City, UT ~ The analysis found that this city's strength "is its economy, as it scored in the top half in every category, performing particularly well in job growth over the last decade."

  • Austin, TX ~ "This fast-growing city has seen its economic output jump over the last three years, and personal income catapulted in the last year."

  • New York City, NY ~ The Big Apple "supports its vast numbers of residents with an astonishing array of companies. New York is home to.nearly 15 percent of all companies in the S&P 500, and [10 percent] of all Russell 2000 firms. It has a huge tourism economic output and a healthy overall economic output."

  • San Antonio, TX ~ "Never a hotbed of Corporate America,.it's more of a hub for Texas energy companies and isn't exactly breeding small companies..Helping to propel it up the charts was [its] personal income growth over the last year, long-term growth in economic output and job growth in relation to population growth over the last half-decade." Its strong "military base" economy also helped.

Greater New Orleans made the largest gain of any metro on the list. It rose 44 positions, from 77th in 2010 to 33rd in 2011.

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