At a time when many cities are struggling to spur civic vitality, places that are home to major colleges or universities are percolating along robustly, often with healthy job growth, low costs of living and rising property values. Fueling this rise is the massive influence academic institutions have on their regions in terms of economic impact, civic connections, and innovative mindsets. Diverse spots — Columbia, Missouri; College Park, Pennsylvania; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina and Chico, California, just to name a few — attract families, retirees, and the academically-minded. The migrants are drawn to the intellectual stimulation and community vibe.
Universities have long served as incubators for fresh thinking and new research. They also provide a solid economic base for area residents, allowing college towns to hold the distinction as areas of low unemployment. The economic activity trickles down into the host city, influencing the ethos of its civic life, from outdoor leisure pursuits to the performing arts.