Hattiesburg, Miss., has been named one of the 10 Best College Towns, 2014 by Livability.com, a national website that ranks quality of life and travel amenities of America’s small to mid-sized cities.
The publication’s editors took a football-themed approach when creating its fifth iteration of this list, breaking things down by conferences, grouping cities according to how their colleges are divided by the Football Bowl Subdivision and choosing the best college town in each division. Hattiesburg is home to The University of Southern Mississippi – members of Conference USA.
They then calculated livability aspects but skewed the list toward measuring the impact these colleges and universities have on their cities and what would make life better for college-aged people. The editors looked for places with housing affordability and high walkability, as well as cities with a high concentration of degree-holders and 25-to-34 year-olds.
In addition, editors checked out the entertainment scenes, recreational opportunities and cultural amenities these cities had to offer. They also looked at the partnerships that exist between the colleges and towns.
“If you look at our overall Top 100 Best Places to Live list, you'll see many college towns at or near the top of the ranking,” says Livability.com Editor Matt Carmichael. “That's no coincidence. For a mid-sized city, having a college or university in town can help move a place from being a good place to live to a great place to live.”
The ranking noted that Hattiesburg attracts young people in pursuit of an education, and it also offers families and retirees a bounty of cultural experiences and activities, affordable housing options, a diverse economy and walkable neighborhoods. Community leaders are actively working to strengthen the bonds between Southern Miss and the newly revitalized downtown area. The university plays a vital role in the city's economy by providing jobs, while the students support local stores and restaurants.
About Livability.com: Livability.com explores what makes small to mid-sized cities great places to live, work and visit. We examine issues related to livability such as walkability, cultural amenities, transportation, urban planning and sustainability through exclusive research and discussions on our blog. We celebrate the accomplishments of these cities through our monthly top 10 lists, our annual ranking of livable cities and our interactions on social media. Livability.com is a product of Journal Communications Inc.