• Mickey McGlasson & Chris Worley

Top 10 Mid-sized Counties in 2021

The 2021 list of top counties in the US is here! Learn more about what the Community Index is and what the 2021 list is all about here. Below is our list of the top 10 mid-sized counties (population 100k-500k) across the US, that we ranked using indicator data to measure community vibrancy and economic success.


1. Sussex County, DE

Sussex County is number one on our list of mid-sized regions. Home to most of Delaware’s Atlantic beaches, as well as a host of saltwater and freshwater wetlands, the County has a strong economy centered around tourism and agriculture -- it produces more poultry than any other county in the nation. Sussex scores above average in every category, and is in the top ten percent on talent, place, and diversity.




2. Fort Collins, CO (Larimer and Weld Counties)

Fort Collins has a top spot on our list of mid-sized regions. Located in Northern Colorado against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Fort Collins has a rich history as well as a robust and growing economy showing no signs of slowing down. It is a top location for business. Fort Collins and the surrounding region scores particularly high in investment, sustainability, talent, and diversity.




3. Bellingham, WA (Whatcom County)

Whatcom County, home to Bellingham, Washington, ranks number three on our mid-sized county list. Located 50 miles southeast of Vancouver and 90 miles north of Seattle, Bellingham offers easy access to urban cities — yet is also a gateway to the wild San Juan Islands and North Cascades. Recognized as a local music scene and a growing hub for craft beer breweries, Bellingham is an attractive city for young people. It scores in the top ten percent in sustainability and place.




4. Santa Fe and Albuquerque, NM (Santa Fe, Sandoval, Los Alamos, and Taos Counties)

The Santa Fe and Albuquerque regions come in at number four on our list of mid-sized counties. Home of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos County has a highly educated workforce and large percentage of high-skill professional, scientific, and technical jobs. Santa Fe, a member of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network, is considered a leading art city around the world. And Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city, plays host to numerous educational institutions and tech companies. On top of these assets, the region serves as a gateway to multiple national parks, rounding out its offerings in culture and activity for everyone.




5. Flagstaff, AZ (Coconino County)

Flagstaff, Arizona, lands at number five on the list of mid-sized counties, scoring in the top ten percent on sustainability and place. Touted as “Arizona’s destination for all seasons,” Flagstaff offers skiing, fall foliage, and access to the Grand Canyon. It is perhaps because of this diversity of opportunity that the region has a thriving tourism scene.




6. Sacramento, CA (Placer County)

Outside of Sacramento, California, Placer County comes in at number six on our mid-sized county list. Placer is in the top ten percent for talent, diversity, and sustainability; with an above average score in investment as well. On top of its unique place in history surrounding the gold mining rush, Placer is also home to North Lake Tahoe and stunning mountains. It is consistently ranked as one of the healthiest counties in California.




7. Bozeman, MT (Gallatin County)

Bozeman and surrounding Gallatin County rank seventh among mid-sized counties by scoring in the top ten percent of investment, sustainability, and place. Adjacent to Yellowstone National Park, Bozeman is a favorite of travelers and locals for its quality of life, scenery, and nearby recreation.




8. Hudson Valley area, NY (Dutchess County)

A peaceful respite outside of New York City, Dutchess County is home to many beloved Hudson Valley towns. City-dwellers flock to the region for recreational opportunities and arts and culture; while residents enjoy easy access to the city and strong educational institutions. Dutchess County comes in at number eight on our list of mid-sized counties, scoring in the top ten percent in place and talent; and above average in investment, sustainability, and diversity.




9. Cape Cod, MA (Barnstable County)

Barnstable County, home to Cape Cod, is number nine on our list of mid-sized places. It ranks in the top ten percent in investment, talent, and place; and above average in sustainability. Residents and tourists alike enjoy the beaches, maritime activities, and rich history of the region. Barnstable County is part of the Boston-Worcester-Providence area, offering easy access to all of these urban hubs.




10. Ottawa County, MI

Just outside Grand Rapids, Ottawa County, Michigan is home to the beautiful Grand Haven area. With multiple beachside parks on the shores of Lake Michigan, the community draws a heavy crop of tourists, particularly in the summer months. Grand Haven is often considered a leader in technology in the region, and was the first municipality in the country to offer citywide WiFi. Ottawa County scores in the top ten percent on sustainability and talent, with above average scores in place and diversity.


Click here to learn more about how each of these communities are ranked.

Curious about where your community ranks? Check out the 2021 Community Index!

Wondering what to do to move your community up on the list? Get in touch!

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