Fourth Economy Index

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View the current FEC Index [ Released March 2015 ]

View previous FEC Index releases

Competition among communities for new talent and responsible investment is fierce. The Fourth Economy team has worked on various community and economic development projects across the country. We have witnessed firsthand the ways that communities and organizations are responding to their new economic reality. We continue to learn a lot about how and why competitive communities attract sustainable investment in the “fourth economy.”

We are building upon these experiences to launch the Fourth Economy Community Index (#FECIndex). This is not another stale “best places” ranking. Rather, this index will serve as a high level dashboard for community stakeholders to gauge their capacity to attract and retain sustainable investment.

The Fourth Economy Community Index will examine both statistical and qualitative factors at the County level within five areas: 1) Investment, 2) Talent, 3) Sustainability, 4) Place, and 5) Diversity. Our experience suggests that these five areas serve as a foundation for future economic success.

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How Does the FEC Index Work?

Our team has divided all of the U.S. counties into four classification categories based on population: Mega-, Large-, Mid-, and Small-size categories.

Key data are collected to include wage and employment growth, education levels, drive times, home values, minority business ownership, agricultural capacity and population density. The measures are weighted based on the level of influence they have on both internal and external investment decisions.

FEC Index Current Map


View FEC Index Counties in a larger map

FEC Index in the News

The latest release of the Fourth Economy Community Index (FEC Index, #FECIndex) has released the nation’s top ten mega-sized Fourth Economy Communities.


A national economic development consulting firm ranks Clackamas County fourth in the nation for being "ideally positioned to achieve sustainable economic growth" while attracting modern investment and people. Fourth Economy Consulting proclaims that "Clackamas County boasts a quality of life that many counties of its size envy."


Washington County has been ranked among the nation’s “mega-counties” with populations in excess of 500,000 residents for its economic diversity and growth opportunity from future investment and economic development.


Utah County was recently selected as one of the top counties in the nation positioned to attract modern investment and manage economic growth. In the recent Fourth Economy Community Index ranking for communities with a population of 500,000 or more, Utah County ranked third.


PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The latest release of the “Fourth Economy Community Index” lists the nation’s top 10 large-sized Fourth Economy Communities. These communities are those ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth. Kalamazoo County is listed among those Top 10 communities.


Fourth Economy Consulting says Clarke County is the best-positioned small community to grow in the modern economy, which will combine the agricultural, industrial and technological sectors.


Lubbock County ranks ninth in the nation on the recently released 2012 Fourth Economy Index Listing of mid-sized counties (population of 150,000 to 300,000).


“A year ago, our regional leadership came together to identify collaborations for growing our economy," Ron Kitchens, chief executive officer of regional economic development organization Southwest Michigan First said in a press release. "We already had a lot of good things in motion but it was our decision to work together towards a common goal that has been the key differentiator. We are proud to be recognized by the Fourth Economy Index and look to keep our momentum moving forward."


Lehigh County is going places says an economic consulting group. The county has been named one of the top 10 counties in the U.S. to attract future growth and investment.


An economic development consultant has ranked Lehigh County seventh among American large-sized counties poised for growth in 2013. Fourth Economy Consulting assembled the ranking, using criteria as investment, talent, sustainability, place and diversity. The Pittsburgh-based firm defines a large county as population between 150,000 and 499,999.


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