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Greene named a top midsize county

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Greene County is ranked No. 5 among midsize counties in the newly created Fourth Economy Community Index, which measures a community's ability to attract and retain modern investment.

The index, conducted by Pittsburgh, Pa.-based economic development solutions provider Fourth Economy Consulting, named 10 counties in the midsize list. Greene is the only county in Missouri ranked in the index. Fayette County in Kentucky, home of horse farms and the University of Kentucky, ranked No. 1 in the index.

The phrase "fourth economy" refers to what the index creators call the nation's current economic condition, combining agrarian, industrial and technological elements, with the fourth being managed economic growth and investment.

The index measures counties based on five areas - investment, talent, sustainability, place and diversity - on a scale ranging up to 4.5. The index comprises counties with a population of 150,000 to 300,000, high levels of education and average travel times less than 20 minutes. The analysis also gave a letter grade for communities based on the ability to support innovation.

Greene County, with its population of 275,000, received an FEC index score of 2.1 and an innovation capacity grade of B-.

In the comments pertaining to Greene County, the study pointed to expansions by companies Kraft and Expedia. The travel company added 500 people to its Springfield facility in the last year, making it the largest outside of the company's headquarters in Bellevue, Wash.

In a news release, the Springfield Business Development Corp. also pointed to Jack Henry & Associates' $8.8 million, 160,000-square-foot Springfield campus and the Jordan Valley Innovation Center as further indication of Greene County progress.

“It is not surprising to see the leading fourth economy counties blend both rural and urban character, offering their residents diverse living and working options,” said Stephen McKnight, Fourth Economy Consulting vice president of community and market assessments, in a news release. “Another common attribute is a geographic association with institutions of higher education, which are the modern engine in the fourth economy.

"As a result, these communities can provide the talent and place-based strategies that address housing, recreation and amenities for smaller, high-value businesses to thrive."[[In-content Ad]]

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