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Top 10 Small Counties in 2020

The 2020 list of top counties in the US is here! Learn more about what the Community Index is and what the 2020 list is all about here. Below is our list of the top 10 small counties (population up to 100k) across the US, that we ranked using indicator data to measure community vibrancy and economic success.

Located in a beautiful island setting, Kauai County, Hawaii, ranks in the top 10 percent in diversity and sustainability. The mission of the county’s office of economic development is, in partnership with the community, to create economic opportunities towards the development of a healthy, stable and balanced economy for the residents. Above average scores in talent and investment round out Kauai County’s overall success in the Index model.

2. Gunnison County, CO (Gunnison)

Gunnison ranks second on our list of top ten small counties, landing in the top ten percent on place and sustainability. Surrounded by stunning natural beauty on every side, Gunnison is home to national wilderness areas, scenic byways, historic trails, and a state park. On top of the quality of life afforded by the natural environment, Gunnison also scores above average in the investment and talent categories.

Outside of Des Moines, Iowa, Dallas County makes a top small-sized spot for its excellent scores in place, investment, and sustainability. The county is the fastest growing in Iowa. The Greater Dallas County Development Alliance is a strong organization that advances the positive impact on economic, social, and environmental aspects of the region. Finance, education, sustainability, membership, and marketing committees take a holistic approach to protecting and enhancing economic, social, and environmental resources.

4. Laramie County, WY (Cheyenne)

Laramie County, Wyoming—home to state capital Cheyenne—is located in the southeast corner of the state. According to the County’s website, residents enjoy a stable, growing economy, high quality of life, excellent educational system, and low tax structure. Cheyenne scores in the top ten percent on investment, place, and sustainability; with above average scores on diversity and talent.

5. Los Alamos County, NM (Los Alamos)

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. A gateway to three national parks and multiple museums, Los Alamos has culture and activity for everyone. The county scores in the top ten percent on diversity, investment, and place.

6. Kittitas County, WA (Ellensburg)

“From the Cascades to the Columbia,” Kittitas County of Washington state is number six on our list of small-sized counties. Scoring in the top ten percent on investment and sustainability—and above average on talent and place—the city of Ellensburg has a rich array of arts and cultural activities, including one of America’s top ten professional rodeos. The County maintains a strong tourism industry, with jobs in the sector increasing by 66% from 2004 to 2016, according to the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce.

About 30 miles northwest of San Antonio, Kendall County is seventh on our list. A “gem” of Texas Hill Country, Kendall performed in the top ten percent on investment, place, and sustainability. The County’s economic development corporation boasts its place as 3rd-fastest growing county in the state of Texas and 7th-fastest growing county in the nation. With this strong economic growth, comfortable year-round climate, and access to outdoor recreational opportunities, Kendall County is full of opportunity and adventure.

Lancaster County, South Carolina, makes our top ten list of small-sized counties with a stellar score in investment. Its proximity to Charlotte ensures it is a much-sought after destination for corporate headquarters, with a strong regional workforce and steady economic growth. And with over one billion dollars in investment since 2012, the County has seen success worth bragging about.

Tucked away in the San Juan Mountains, Durango and La Plata County rank top ten percent in investment, sustainability, and talent. Main Avenue in Downtown is a Nationally Registered Historic District that cuts through downtown Durango and is home to galleries, boutiques, restaurants, bars, and other businesses. The Animas river runs through downtown and provides residents and visitors with recreation opportunities. The area has a reputation as a small-business incubator and prides itself on economic growth through attracting entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Home to Kansas City International Airport, Platte County, Missouri, specializes in Management of Companies & Enterprises, Transportation & Warehousing, and Information industries. The county scores above average for diversity and in the top ten percent for investment and talent. With top educational systems, significant investment in recreational amenities, and a strong workforce, the small communities found in Platte County appeal to those seeking a small town feel.

Curious about where your community ranks? Check out the 2020 Community Index!

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


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