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PSL Ranks high on 'best' lists



Tradition fountain

Recreation, affordable living, job opportunities and vacation spots are some of the elements that have put Port St. Lucie on national lists for the best places to live and visit.

Media attention could give economy a needed boost

BY JERRY SHAW

Whether people are looking for a comfortable place to retire, job opportunities, a safe environment, or just a nice spot for a vacation, Port St. Lucie is the place to be, and that comes from some of the most prominent sources nationwide. The city continues to pummel the competition on numerous “best” and “top” lists.

Over the summer, Bloomberg Business named Port St. Lucie one of the 18 cities that will see the most economic growth in the next year. In July, Forbes ranked the city as one of the top 10 for job growth, for the second year in a row.

Forbes also named Port St. Lucie as one of the 25 best places to retire. WalletHub placed the city eighth out of 150 large cities throughout the country among the best places to retire in 2015, because of its cost of living and available recreational activities. WalletHub also named the city as one of the best in the U.S. to start a business in 2014.

‘GO-TO VACATION SPOT’

In calling Port St. Lucie one of the top trending vacation rental destinations, FlipKey stated: “Small, quiet Port Saint Lucie has been making a lot of noise lately as a go-to Florida vacation spot.” FlipKey, part of the TripAdvisor company, based its findings on Web traffic to its tens of thousands of vacation destinations in the first half of 2015.

Expedia rated the city as the 14th most comfortable place in its list of the 101 most comfortable cities for travelers.

Movoto, a real estate source, hailed Port St. Lucie as “the best city in Florida!” It ranked No. 1 out of the 10 best places to live, “thanks to having the best crime rating among all 10 cities. It also has a low cost of living, average schools and unemployment rates, and good access to amenities, too.”

Investor’s Business Daily reported on the five hottest housing markets in the U.S. in May 2015, with Port St. Lucie coming in second, based on a study from the National Association of Realtors. The PGA Golf Course in Port St. Lucie was also among the top 75 public courses in Florida, according to Golf Digest.

Whenever Port St. Lucie pops up on a “best” or “top” list, it increases the phone calls to the St. Lucie County Chamber of Commerce with inquiries about relocating, according to Chamber president and CEO Terissa C. Aronson. The Chamber also gets an influx of resumes from people looking for work in their desired fields.

“The most important thing that it does is it increases the confidence of our residents and business owners,” Aronson said.

ECONOMIC TROUBLES

The accolades come at a time when the city faces economic challenges. The City Council approved an 18 percent property tax increase in September. The measure was passed to deal with failed economic development projects and to eliminate deficit spending, costing the city more than $220 million, according to city officials. The listings could help play a role in boosting the local economy with a larger tax base and business expansion.

Mayor Gregory J. Oravec pointed out that the good news from these lists provides recognition to attract potential residents and business owners to the city. Any positive results from that could land the city on more “best” lists. He likened it to “the chicken and the egg” analogy. Good news for Port St. Lucie brings forth more positive input that in turn leads to more recognition.

“We get those recognitions because good things are happening. We get positive feedback,” the mayor said.

“What spurs expansion of our health care industry, helps with most jobs, best economy, all these things are kind of interconnected.”

Oravec noted that being the safest large city (with more than 100,000 population) for 11 of the last 13 years, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records, helps with the prospects of good things continuing to occur.

STRONG HOUSING MARKET

The favorable national media attention on Port St. Lucie has made St. Lucie County a top destination for many people, thanks in part to the city’s strong housing market, explained Kathy Slusser, real estate agent with RE/MAX and northern vice president of the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches.

“Our market has been consistently rising for quite some time now,” Slusser said. “Some of that contributes to it having positive feedback.”

The recognition revealed the resiliency of the local real estate market and its ability to recuperate from past economic conditions, she said.

As Port St. Lucie, like many other cities, struggles with financial uncertainties, the city’s website proudly boasts of the “best” rankings on its “good news” page, signs that may contribute to a turnaround.


PSL’s ‘BESTS’


Here’s a recent chronology of accolades the city has received:

September 2015: Port St. Lucie named one of the “Top Trending Vacation Rental Destinations” by FlipKey, a TripAdvisor company and online vacation rental marketplace.
August 2015: Expedia.com ranks Port St. Lucie as the 14th most comfortable place in the U.S. for a hotel stay.
July 2015: For the second year in a row, Forbes.com names Port St. Lucie as one of the 10 best cities in the U.S. for job growth, saying that retiring baby boomers are increasing demand for services that create jobs.
July 2015: Bloomberg Business says Port St. Lucie will be one of the leading cities in the nation to see economic growth in 2016. With a projected economic growth rate of 4 percent, the city ranked 14th in the U.S., partly because of a continued growth in the local retirement population.
June 2015: Ranked Best City in the U.S. for Firefighters by consumer research company ValuePenguin.
May 2015: Investor’s Business Daily names Port St. Lucie 2nd “hottest housing market” in the U.S for the first quarter of 2015.
March 2015: Golf Digest rates the PGA Golf Course here as one of the best in the state.
September 2014: WalletHub.com ranks Port St. Lucie 7th in its list of Best Places to Retire in the U.S.
July 2014: Forbes.com names Port St. Lucie the 8th Best City for Job Growth in the country, saying jobs are mainly in healthcare, retail and leisure and hospitality.
May 2014: Travel-related website DestinationSeeker.com ranks PSL as the Best Place to Live in Florida.
March 2014: Port St. Lucie ranks 13th Best City to Start a Business in the U.S. by WalletHub.com, which is an online social network about personal finance.
January 2014: Forbes ranks the city as one of the 25 Best Places to Retire.
January 2014: Movoto.com ranks PSL No. 1 on a list of the 10 Best Places to Live in Florida.
October 2013: Forbes names PSL one of the 200 Best Places for Business & Careers.

Source: City of Port St. Lucie