Fourth Economy Index

View the current FEC Index [ Released December 2012 ]

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.

How Does the FEC Index Work?

Our team has divided all of the U.S. counties into 4 classification categories based on population: Large-, Mid-, Small- and Micro-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 Fourth Economy Community Index ranked Lexington the top Mid-sized community because it is ideally positioned to attract modern investment and manage economic growth. The index measured investment, talent, sustainability, place, and diversity.






Greensburg officials want the district to spark development and to “enhance the charm and character of the residential neighborhoods,” according to the proposal. Urban, which will be working with Fourth Economy Consulting of Pittsburgh, will be paid $85,000 from grant and foundation money, said Steve Gifford, executive director of the Greensburg Community Development Corp., which is involved in the project.


A panel discussion on “The Responsible Use of Water in Industry” will include Steve McKnight, of Fourth Economy Consulting; Sam Johnson, director of Water Asset Development for CONSOL Energy; Doug Wyatt of the National Energy Technology Laboratory; and Jack Adams and Leo Zappa of Calgon Carbon.


At the County level, the FEC Index divides communities into micro-, small-, mid-, and large-sized counties. Fourth Economy then evaluates five areas; Investment, talent, sustainability, place, and diversity.


Published annually by Fourth Economy Consulting of Pittsburgh, the Fourth Economy Index identifies those counties that are “ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth.”


The latest release of the "Fourth Economy Community (FEC) Index" was announced recently, listing the nation’s top 10 large-sized Fourth Economy Communities. These communities are those ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth and Kalamazoo County is on the list. 


A consulting company based in Pittsburgh has ranked Guilford and Durham counties among the nation’s top 10 large-sized Fourth Economy communities, according to a new index created by Fourth Economy Consulting, according to the High Point Enterprise.


Durham residents know that their county is a hotbed of economic activity and is poised for growth in all the right ways, but it's always nice to be recognized. Durham was recently recognized for being #1 in the nation by the Fourth Economy Community Index's top 10 large-sized Fourth Economy Communities. The recognized communities are ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth.


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