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Ryan Johnson, Published November 09 2012

Fargo named No. 12 college town in U.S.

FARGO – With about 30,000 college students in the community and several schools to choose from, Fargo is one of the country’s top college towns, according to new rankings from the American Institute for Economic Research.

The group ranked Fargo No. 12 among college towns with a population of 250,000 or less. Grand Forks also made the top 20 in this category, being ranked No. 17. The top honor went to Ithaca, N.Y.

Duluth, Minn., was ranked No. 14 among the small metros category, while Minneapolis-St. Paul was No. 6 among major metros.

North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani said it continues the growing accolades the community is receiving.

“While it doesn’t come as any surprise, it certainly is exciting for the area to increasingly receive that type of national recognition,” he said.

The institute analyzed America’s 227 metropolitan statistical areas with student populations of 15,000 or more, narrowing the list down to the top 75 communities. Rankings were based on 12 factors, including student diversity, research capacity, cost of living, arts and leisure, entrepreneurial activity and unemployment.

Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Charley Johnson said Fargo likely earned high marks for the increasing research activities taking place at NDSU, Minnesota State University Moorhead and Concordia College, as well as the ongoing work of the Red River Valley Research Corridor.

Low unemployment, low crime and a modest cost of living also helped Fargo climb into the top 20 rankings, he said.

“It’s another great recognition for our communities,” he said. “People are paying more and more attention to Fargo-Moorhead as a community as a metropolitan area, and when they come here, they’re always surprised at how much fun it is, too.”

Bresciani said the latest ranking is “overdue recognition” for both the community and the strength of NDSU and the other higher education institutions here.

“It’s not just the town; it’s the college that’s in the town,” Bresciani said. “NDSU’s national ranking and increasing visibility for the quality of our student experience, for the affordability and access to topflight education, for the research productivity that’s leading the state, all of those in combination with the exciting developments in the Fargo-Moorhead area make for a phenomenal environment.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587