What is it that makes a community one of the best places in the country to raise kids? How many of you would put Racine in that category?
If you're Business Week magazine -- which makes a career out of its annual best places, best colleges, best places to work issues -- the most important factors that make communities family-friendly include:
- school performance
- cost of living
- air quality (check!)
- job growth
- racial diversity (check!)
- local parks and ball fields (check!)
- zoos (check!)
- recreation centers (check!)
- museums and theaters (check!)
Business Week says it dropped from consideration communities with fewer than 50,000 people, or median household incomes less than $40,000 or more than $100,000 (Whoops! This is a close call: The 2000 Census listed Racine's median household income as $37,164, but more current figures say it's $42,234. We just squeak into consideration.)
But, OK, we didn't win. That honor went to Mount Prospect, IL, "a quiet Chicago suburb" whose high school ranks 12th in the state, its football team has been state champion three times in eight years and its marching band has won 26 straight state championships. "It is a middle-class community with low crime, affordable homes, award-winning schools, ethnic restaurants, a major regional mall, and a small-town charm."
Still, Business Week wants to leave happy readers everywhere, and so it has chosen the best places to raise kids in every state.
Alas, Racine didn't win the Wisconsin title, either. That honor went to Eau Claire, population 61,887; median household income, $60,637, "once primarily a logging and manufacturing town but the economy now includes high-tech, health-care and university jobs."
Runners-up in Wisconsin: Appleton and (drum roll, finally!) Racine. (Take that Madison!)
Business Week provides no supporting information, no rationale. Maybe it's better that way. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, Mother always used to say.