City tops national poll

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 24, 2001

Greenville is at the top of national ranking of home towns conducted by a new community-profiling Internet company. ranked Greenville at the top of cities in counties with populations less than 100,000. The city received an adjusted index of 100, after scoring 87 of a possible 99 points in 11 statistical categories, according to Brad Edmonson, ePodunk's vice-president-content.

"I think this is great," said Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon. "I've been knowing all my life that Greenville is number one. It's number one in my heart."

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Four other Alabama towns made the top ten in the small-town index: Demopolis, Jackson, Luverne and Tuscumbia. Birmingham was the third-ranked city in counties with populations more than 100,000.

"The core of this index was determined by a team of four sociologists who did a study of the things that make people want to live in a particular place," said Brad Edmonson. Edmonson is the former editor-in-chief of American Demographics magazine and a nationally-recognized expert on demographics and social change.

"When I was at American Demographics we published another study done by this team of sociologists. For the ePodunk index, we've added two criteria, the local recognition for historical buildings and the number of informal social gathering places," said Edmonson.

According to the report, the ePodunk index combined 11 statistical sources to measure residential roots and civic spirit.

Four of the eleven sources in the Index measure "rootedness" and are taken from the decennial Census of Population. These include:

n the proportion of residents who did not change addresses between 1975 and 1980.

n those who did not change between 1985 and 1990

n those who resided in their state of birth in 1980

n and state natives in 1990.

Seven sources in the index measure "civic engagement." These include:

n Local recognition for historic buildings, expressed as the number of listings in the National Register of Historic Places per county resident.

n Faith-based community action, expressed as the proportion of residents who belong to "civically engaged" church denominations – those whose members also have above-average membership in voluntary organizations such as Rotary, labor unions, and professional/trade associations (as measured by the General Social Survey).

n Church adherence, or the proportion of residents who belong to any denomination measured by the Census of Churches.

n The number of churches per resident (Census of Churches).

n The number of voluntary organizations per resident (as measured by the Encyclopedia of Associations).

n The number of informal social gathering places per resident. These are defined as restaurants, bars, coffee shops, barbershops, grocery stores, and other small retail businesses where informal meetings take place (as measured by the Economic Census).

n The number of manufacturing firms with 20 or fewer employees per resident (Economic Census).

"To determine the indexes, each county is assigned a number from 0 to 9 for each variable, and scores for the 11 variables are added to make a total score," said Edmonson. "Butler County scored 87 out of a possible 99."

The raw scores, which range from 0 to 87, have been adjusted to range from 0 (Chattahoochee County, Georgia) to 100 (Butler County).

McLendon said he plans to use this distinction in every way possible to promote Greenville.

"We're going to capitalize on this," he said. "We'll make sure that those companies that are considering Greenville as a place to locate their business know about this award.

The distinction will be a big plus in attracting new types of businesses to Greenville, said McLendon.

"It's not just industries," he said. "There are several service-oriented companies looking at Greenville."

The web-site, which was launched Sunday, received 100,000 hits in its first five days, said Edmonson. The company has been in development for more than a year, and the index was applied to 28,000 cities, towns and villages, all of which are profiled on the company's web site, Michael Irwin and Troy Blanchard of Duquesne University, Charles Colbert of Louisiana State University and Thomas Lyson of Cornell University are the sociologists who handled the project research, according to Edmonson.

Adjusted indexes for all Alabama counties include:

Butler County AL 100

Clarke County AL 97

Marengo County AL 92

Colbert County AL 91

Crenshaw County AL 91

Jefferson County AL 90

Lowndes County AL 87

Conecuh County AL 85

Greene County AL 85

Bibb County AL 84

Morgan County AL 83

Clay County AL 83

Wilcox County AL 83

Lauderdale County AL 82

Baldwin County AL 80

Etowah County AL 78

Monroe County AL 78

Pickens County AL 78

Bullock County AL 77

Montgomery County AL 76

Choctaw County AL 76

Tallapoosa County AL 75

Washington County AL 75

Lawrence County AL 74

St. Clair County AL 72

Blount County AL 72

Fayette County AL 72

Henry County AL 72

Randolph County AL 71

Marshall County AL 70

Covington County AL 70

Walker County AL 69

Perry County AL 69

Tuscaloosa County AL 68

Hale County AL 68

Coosa County AL 68

Calhoun County AL 67

Cullman County AL 67

Chilton County AL 67

Barbour County AL 67

Winston County AL 67

Limestone County AL 66

Sumter County AL 66

Mobile County AL 64

Talladega County AL 64

DeKalb County AL 64

Pike County AL 64

Lamar County AL 64

Houston County AL 63

Escambia County AL 63

Elmore County AL 62

Chambers County AL 62

Cherokee County AL 62

Autauga County AL 61

Franklin County AL 61

Cleburne County AL 61

Marion County AL 60

Dallas County AL 56

Geneva County AL 54

Macon County AL 54

Madison County AL 52

Russell County AL 49

Jackson County AL 47

Shelby County AL 45

Coffee County AL 44

Lee County AL 36

Dale County AL 33