Location, location, location. It is a key factor in deciding where to live, work, and play. And it can also be a telling indicator of where to launch.Introducing: Opportunity Scores by Opportunity IndexHuffington Post overviewed a new tool that enables you to assess the potential of any geographic area in the U.S. based on factors such as education, median income, poverty level, unemployment, and availability of affordable housing. These opportunity scores, part of the Opportunity Index project by Opportunity Nation, give an apples-to-apples comparison of counties and states.



How Can the Opportunity Index Be Useful to Social Innovators?

Understanding opportunity scores can help social innovators and social entrepreneurs decide where to launch, where to expand, and where to engage,  in surprising ways. Social ventures rely on business acumen and compelling social cause and arguably, launching in a place that is known for its economic and social stability and mobility could offer advantage at crucial stages of a social enterprise’s growth and development.

Alternatively, the Index can also help identify communities and region that could benefit most from social enterprise. Not the top-scorers, but the cities, counties, and states that are struggling. Knowing cities that have scored high gives us a learning tool to compare and contrast what has helped these cities succeed and how social innovation and social enterprise and can help rebuild and uplift cities with the greatest need, and the greatest potential.

Perfect 5’s for Opportunity: Method and Findings

The granularity of the information in the Opportunity Index extends to the county level. To find cities, I identified top-performing counties and selected a city within that county for the list. These cities were usually the largest cities or centers for local government.

I was anticipating finding a number of large cities along with medium-sized suburbs. Interestingly, the vast majority of perfect scores went to smaller towns, cities, and townships. These seemly tight-knit communities appear to have been able to weather, withstand, and in some cases, even flourish in the economic downturn–according to the success criteria of the Index.

37 Cities With Top Opportunity Scores

So here they are, in no particular order. Thirty-seven cities that scored an overall perfect 5 for opportunity based on indicators including unemployment, affordable housing, median income, education, and poverty.

  1. Quincy, Massachusetts (Norfolk County)
  2. Edgartown, Massachussetts (Dukes County)
  3. Derry, New Hampshire (Rockingham County)
  4. Burlington, Vermont (Chittenden County)
  5. Yonkers, New York (Westchester County)
  6. Hackensack, New Jersey (Bergen County)
  7. Hempstead, New York (Nassau County)
  8. Franklin Township, New Jersey (Somerset County)
  9. Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey (Morris County)
  10. Raritan Township, New Jersey (Hunterdon County)
  11. Norristown, Pennsylvania (Montgomery County)
  12. West Chester, Pennsylvania (Chester County)
  13. Columbia, Maryland (Howard County)
  14. Rockville, Maryland (Montgomery County)
  15. Ashburn, Virginia (Loudon County)
  16. Fairfax, Virginia (Fairfax County)
  17. Charlottesville, Virginia (Albemarle County)
  18. Ashland, Virginia (Hanover County)
  19. Jamestown, Virginia (James County)
  20. Cumming, Georgia (Forsyth County)
  21. Fayetteville, Georgia (Fayette County)
  22. Franklin, Tennessee (Williamson County)
  23. Delaware, Ohio (Delaware County)
  24. Troy, Michigan (Oakland County)
  25. Mequon, Wisconsin (Ozaukee County)
  26. Waukesha, Wisconsin (Waukesha County)
  27. Naperville, Illinois (DuPage County)
  28. Carmel, Indiana (Hamilton County)
  29. Fredricksburg, Texas (Gillespie County)
  30. Overland Park, Kansas (Johnson County)
  31. Castle Rock, Colorado (Douglas County)
  32. Boulder, Colorado (Boulder County)
  33. Grandby, Colorado (Grand County)
  34. Silverthorne, Colorado (Summit County)
  35. Los Alamos, New Mexico (Los Alamos County)
  36. Park City, Utah (Summit County)
  37. San Rafael, California (Marin County)

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