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

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.


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.


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.


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.


"We are honored to see Lehigh County recognized by Fourth Economy as one of the leading economic growth counties in the United States, said Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Don Cunningham in a statement. "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."


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.


“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.”


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.


Lehigh County is ranked seventh in a top ten list of communities recommended for investment by a Pittsburgh economic consulting group, according to a WFMZ report.


“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."


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