West Lafayette ranked 6th smartest small town in America

January 7, 2009 Greg McClure

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - West Lafayette is ranked the sixth smartest small town in America in a survey out this week by Forbes magazine.

Of West Lafayette, the magazine said in its story: "Purdue University draws top science minds to this west Indiana town with its high-ranking engineering program. High-paying science and tech jobs in Purdue Research Park - from employers like Nissan Chemical, Nanovis and Butler International - keep them there."

Bethesda, Md., is rated the most-educated small town on the Forbes list. Ranking second through fifth are Wellesley, Mass.; Palo Alto, Calif.; McLean, Va.; and Los Altos, Calif.

West Lafayette is the only Indiana town on the list and is the highest-ranking city in the Midwest, ahead of Wilmette, Ill., near Chicago, which is 13th.

To come up with the most-educated small towns, the magazine used data from the U.S. Census 2005-2007 American Community Survey, which surveyed more than 2,500 regions with 20,000 to 65,000 residents about their education. The number of graduate degrees - including master's degrees, doctorate degrees, professional degrees, bachelor's degrees and associate degrees - were each divided by the population of the town over age 25 and then weighted to give a final average for each location.

According to the magazine, 46.9 percent of West Lafayette's population of 27,664 residents hold advanced degrees, 30.3 percent have bachelor's degrees and 3.3 percent have associate degrees.

"There is no question that well-paying jobs offered by high-tech companies in the research park, in addition to the university itself, play a big part in attracting well-educated people to West Lafayette," said Joseph B. Hornett, senior vice president, treasurer and chief operating officer of the Purdue Research Foundation, which oversees the Purdue Research Park.

To read the story in Forbes, go to http://www.forbes.com/realestate/2009/01/02/educated-small-towns-forbeslife-cx_jd_0105realestate.html. For the top 20 listing in Forbes, go to http://www.forbes.com/2009/01/02/educated-small-towns-forbeslife-cx_jd_0105realestate_slide_2.html?thisspeed=15000

Writer: Greg McClure, (765) 494-9394, gmcclure@purdue.edu

Source: Joseph B. Hornett, (765) 496-1658, jbhornett@prf.org