LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 21, 2014) – The Greater Louisville Project (GLP) today announced its updated list of “peer” cities – the communities to which Louisville benchmarks its socio-economic performance. The new list includes 10 cities from the original list, adopted by the GLP in 2003, plus six new peers. Four cities from the original list have been dropped.
Dropped were Dayton, Ohio; Jacksonville, Fla.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Richmond, Va. Added peer cities are Grand Rapids., Mich.; Greeneville, S.C.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Oklahoma City; St. Louis; and Tulsa, Okla.
Why the update?
“Ten years after adopting the original list, it was time to re-evaluate the cities we call ‘peers,’ ” said GLP Director Christen Boone. “Much has changed in the past 10 years for Louisville and for our peer cities, including the great recession, the migration of companies and people between regions, and the availability and scope of data.”
Another change occurred in 2013, when the Census Bureau redrew the metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) of many peer cities, including Louisville. (An MSA is a geographical region with a relatively high population and close economic ties throughout the area.) The GLP concluded that the updated MSAs were another reason to re-evaluate the list of peer cities.
So last October, the GLP board authorized the University of Louisville’s Urban Studies Institute (USI) to update and expand the study that produced the original peer city list. The USI used the same methodology as the study that produced the original list, but with the most current data. Then the USI added more social, demographic and labor market variables to give a more complete picture of the community’s overall economic health.
Peers and their purpose
Since 2003, the GLP has been comparing Louisville to peer cities to create an agenda for long-term progress. Just as businesses benchmark their performance against companies facing similar challenges and opportunities, the GLP benchmarks Louisville against its peers to gauge how well the community is addressing strategic challenges. Focusing on three deep drivers of change – Education, 21st Century Jobs and Quality of Place – the GLP measures performance, then shares the data and challenges the community to be accountable for important change.
The GLP partnered with the USI to develop the peer list, using Census data to determine the cities that most closely resemble Louisville on economic, demographic and health indicators.
A series of analyses at both the county and MSA level produced “clusters” of cities that are comparable to Louisville. After excluding MSAs with populations smaller than 250,000 or larger than 5 million, this process resulted in a list 15 peers. Nashville, one of the original peers, was added to the list because of its regional proximity and similar industrial and economic profile. This process and the final list of 16 peers were reviewed and approved by GLP Policy Board members and by leadership from key community partners such as KentuckianaWorks, Greater Louisville Inc., 55,000 Degrees, Metro Government, the Center for Nonprofit Excellence and Metro United Way.
“This new list will serve as Louisville’s peer cities for the next decade,” Boone said. “Each decennial census will give us an opportunity to evaluate whether the list needs updating again.”
For more than a decade, The Greater Louisville Project has provided research and data analysis to catalyze action and engage the community in a shared agenda for long-term progress.
The GLP is an independent, non-partisan initiative supported by a consortium of philanthropic foundations, including James Graham Brown Foundation; Brown-Forman; C. E. & S. Foundation; Lift a Life Foundation; Community Foundation of Louisville; Humana Foundation; Stephen Reily and Emily Bingham Fund; The Owsley Brown Family Foundations; The Gheens Foundation; and JP Morgan Chase Foundation.
Louisville’s Peer Cities
Kansas City, Mo.
Grand Rapids, Mi.Greensboro, N.C.
Kansas City, Mo.
Oklahoma City, Okla.
St. Louis, Mo.