New York Times profiles Bert Sperling, the man behind the annual "Cities Ranked & Rated: More Than 400 Metropolitan Areas Evaluated in the U.S. & Canada." Ann Arbor ranked No. 5 this year.
USA Today printed a piece about his research and data-collection methods; the editors of Money magazine liked what they saw, and a relationship was born in 1987 that continues to this day — with a few breaks — developing the magazine’s “best cities” lists.
This has blossomed into a virtual industry. There is Sperling’s Best Places (bestplaces.net), where you can plug in any city and get a wealth of information. The site gets about 20,000 hits a day, he says.
Then there are the specific projects, for which he charges an array of clients $5,000 to $20,000, depending on the scope. For seven years he performed an annual study for Ladies’ Home Journal on the best cities for women, and he still does a yearly study for Self magazine on the healthiest cities for women.
Mr. Sperling also sells access to his database to companies like Yahoo, MSN and The Wall Street Journal.
He does all this with the help of his wife and five researchers.
He has developed a set of 10 broad categories into which he feeds an array of government statistics. The 10 are economy and jobs; cost of living; climate; education; health and health care; crime; transportation; leisure; arts and culture; and quality of life, which includes physical setting, downtown core, heritage and overall appearance.
Read the entire profile here