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

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.


“We are honored to see Lehigh County recognized by Fourth Economy as one of the leading economic growth counties in the United States, said LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham. “It is always good to see national entities discover what we know is happening here in the Lehigh Valley. It confirms what we continually are seeing that businesses want to start here, grow here and come here, on both sides of the Lehigh Valley.”


Dec. 20--GUILFORD COUNTY -- A Pittsburgh-based consulting company has picked up on what's going on with the growth and expansion of businesses in Guilford County. Guilford and Durham counties rank among the nation's top 10 large-sized Fourth Economy communities, according to a new index created by Fourth Economy Consulting.


Chester County has been recognized as the fifth best county in the United States as a community “ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth among all regions with a population greater than 500,000.”  The ranking was issued as part of the Fourth Economy Community (FEC) Index by national economic development consultants Fourth Economy Consulting.


The Pittsburgh-based Fourth Economy Consulting this week released its list of 10 “large-sized communities” poised for economic growth across the country, and Maine’s Cumberland County ranked sixth. The so-called Fourth Economy Communities were rated based on a variety of factors often seen as precursors to — or drivers of — economic growth, such as wage figures, employment numbers, education levels, entrepreneurship, minority business ownership, property values, population densities and a number of other things.


Fourth Economy announced it selected Dane County for its Economy Community Index for Mega-Sized Counties for 2015. The report highlights “communities ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth.”


An economic consulting firm has highlighted Stearns County as a community ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth. On Tuesday, Pittsburgh-based Fourth Economy Consulting ranked Stearns County as the tenth large-sized community in the nation poised to achieve sustainable growth while attracting people and business. Stearns County was compared to communities of similarly sized population.


A Pittsburgh-based economic consulting firm on Friday ranked Chittenden County as tops among the nation's most promising medium-sized business communities. Among communities with populations between 150,000 and 499,999, Vermont's most developed region (with a population of approximately 159,000) is "poised to achieve sustainable economic growth while attracting people and investment," according to a news release from Fourth Economy Consulting.


Chester County’s talent, community investment, sustainability, sense of place, and diversity have made it one of the nation’s top ten mega-sized Fourth Economy Communities. Fourth Economy Consulting placed Chester County at number five on its latest  national community index, which lists the nation’s top communities of over 500,000 people. The firm said the listing on the index means the county is ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth within the fourth economy.


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