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

WOOD COUNTY, OH (Sentinel-Tribune)- Wood County has been ranked among the top 10 small counties in the U.S. in a new economy index. Unlike other "quality of life" surveys, which are a "little squishy," the National Fourth Economy Community Index is based on hard data, according to Steve McKnight, of the Pittsburgh-based Fourth Economy Consulting. "This is all data driven," McKnight said this morning of the rankings. Wood County was ranked ninth in the nation, and is the only Ohio county to make the list.


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). The Fourth Economy Index highlights communities ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth within the “fourth economy.”


PITTSBURGH (FourthEconomy.com) – The 2012 Fourth Economy Index Listing for small and mid-sized counties has been released. Three Texas counties are identified as having a strong capacity to attract and retain sustainable investment.


The latest release of the “Fourth Economy Community (FEC) Index” was announced today 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. Good news…Durham was ranked No. 1!


Johnson County, Iowa, was ranked third in The “Fourth Economy Community (FEC) Index” released today.  The listing ranks the nation’s top 10, small-sized Fourth Economy Communities.  This category features counties that are ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth.  County populations must fall within 100,000 to 150,000 residents.


XENIA — Greene County is rated one of the top mid-size counties in the country by an economic consulting firm. The county ranked sixth in the Fourth Economy Community Index which compares the economic health of counties.


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).


In 2012, Warren County was ranked in the top 10 small-sized counties in the nation by the Fourth Economy Index based on investment, talent, sustainability, place and diversity.


BLOOMINGTON — Pittsburgh-based Fourth Economy Consulting has ranked Monroe County as the No. 2 small-sized community in the nation in its annual Economy Community Index.


A Pittsburgh consulting firm has named Monroe County the second best “small county” in the country


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