West Chester again earns spot on ‘Best Places to Live’ list

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West Chester again earns spot on ‘Best Places to Live’ list

BY THE NUMBERS: WEST CHESTER TWP.

63,162: Population

43.5: Percentage of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree.

23: Average commute time in minutes

$91,528: Median family income

4: Percentage of projected five-year job growth

4.6: Percentage of unemployment rate

$205,000: Median home price

Source: Money Magazine

A Butler County township’s recent ranking in a national publication is its fifth such honor in the past 11 years and an indication of its economic strength, local officials said.

Money Magazine placed West Chester Twp. at No. 49 on “America’s Top 50 Places to Live,” a distinction with the potential to further energize already resilient retail, residential and corporate growth in the community.

Michaela Durst, 20, who has lived in the township since she was 3 years old, said it was “good to grow up in a community that was being recognized” as one of the top places to live in the nation.

“When I grew up here it was just farms,” Durst said. “It’s amazing to see all the businesses and all the shopping and entertainment around here.”

Released on Monday, this year’s list focuses on communities with populations from 50,000 to 300,000, analyzing and ranking them on about 60 factors, from median home prices to the median high temperature and graduation rates to crime rates, according to the magazine.

Not only is this the fifth time Ohio’s largest township has been named to the magazine’s top 100 list, but it’s also the only Ohio community to make the 2016 slate of picks by the publication.

“I think it’s awesome because it helps property values,” said Ann Albers, of West Chester Twp. “I’ve lived here for 28 years, so that’s exciting.”

Albers said the best part of the changes has been the convenience of shopping and the ability to get to other communities easily via Interstate 75 and Interstate 275.

“You can really get around the city quickly,” she said. And the shopping. I mean, how many people can say they live five minutes from IKEA? There’s a lot of people who would love to have that in their backyard.”

West Chester Twp. was previously ranked No. 30 in 2014, No. 97 in a list of “Top 100 Places to Live” in 2012, No. 32 in 2010 and No. 45 in 2005, according to Money Magazine.

The township’s booming corporate base and ample employment opportunities — including Lakota Local School District, GE Aviation, Totes Isotoner, UC Health’s West Chester Hospital and Procter & Gamble’s Beckett Ridge Technical Center — are high on the list of criteria for the magazine’s distinction, as well as numerous livability factors.

Those factors include outdoor movies in the park on Friday nights during summer months and a farmers’ market every Saturday on outdoor public gathering space the Square @ Union Centre.

Other events on the Square include the Shamrock Shuffle, the Buckeye BBQ Fest, Rhythm & Brews Craft Beer & Music Fest and the Union Centre Food Truck Rally.

Also noted by the magazine was Topgolf, a 64,232-square-foot indoor/outdoor golf and entertainment center that opened in July and the history-rich National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting just off Tylersville Road.

Those types of activities helped fuel county tourism in 2015, which sustained 7.9 percent of salaried employment in Butler County, supported 13,679 local jobs and accounted for one in 13 jobs in the county and $286.8 million in wages, according to a recent report by the Butler County Visitors Bureau.

The local tourism industry contributed more than $26.7 million in local taxes, helping to keep annual taxes in check for county residents, according to the visitors bureau.

Butler County generated just over $1.1 billion in 2015, a 7.1 percent increase from 2014 and above the state’s 4.9 percent growth, according to TourismOhio.

Money Magazine’s recognition is a reflection of the township’s economic strength, West Chester Twp. Trustee Lee Wong told the Journal-News.

“It is all about good schools, good governance, good people and good business, which makes West Chester the premiere community,” Wong said. “We’re always striving to be better than yesterday. We’re not going to sit on our laurels and not move forward.”

Wong also noted the township is an appealing place to live because of its low crime rate, good employment and affordable housing.

“These are factors that really incorporate into a great community,” he said.

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