Officials in Little Rock defended it Tuesday after a USA Today article ranked the state's capital city among the 50 worst places to live in the United States.
In last month's article compiled by the content provider 24/7 Wall Street and printed in USA Today, Little Rock was named the No. 19 worst place to live. The list cited its high violent crime rate, low growth rate and below-average median household income.
The city's violent crime rate of 1,533 incidents per 100,000 residents is nearly quadruple the national average and "may discourage some from relocating to or starting a family in the city," according to the article.
"I invite 24/7 Wall Street to come down and experience for themselves our downtown renaissance, generous and welcoming people, natural beauty and comfortable way of life," Mayor Mark Stodola said in a statement Tuesday. "In the meantime, we'll continue working tirelessly to build an even better Little Rock."
The mayor addressed the violent crime rate in a tweet and added that several other rankings have recognized Little Rock's quality of life.
"Facts: Violent crime is down 23 percent and property crime down 18 percent in the first six months of this year," he said.
And Forbes has ranked LRthe most livable city in the USA&we were ranked recently as on of the top destination cities to retire to! USA just reprinted some blog probably trying to boost their readership. Facts: violent crime is down 23% & prop crime down 18% 1st 6 mos of this yr. https://t.co/haJYQZAgUz— Mark Stodola (@LittleRockMayor) July 10, 2018
Bill Fitzgerald, vice president of marketing and communications at the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, joined Stodola in touting Little Rock's inclusion on many "best cities" lists.
Most recently, Resonance Consultancy listed Little Rock at No. 23 on its list of America’s 50 Best Small Cities and No. 8 on its top-10 list of Small Cities for Prosperity, he said.
The real estate, tourism and economic development advising agency considered factors such as culture, attractions and nightlife, as well as the employment rate and median household income, in the overall ranking.
"While we're not thrilled about the USA Today listing, we feel good about Little Rock as a great place to live, work and visit," Fitzgerald said. "If you go back to the USA Today list, we're keeping company with some other cool places like Salt Lake City, Atlanta and Tacoma, Wash. I see a whole lot more good about Little Rock than bad."
Fort Smith also appeared on the ranking at No. 50. The article cites the city’s crime rate — the second-highest in Arkansas, behind Little Rock — and states its low educational attainment rate limits economic growth and curbs the earning potential of its residents.
“We were disappointed in the headline and the story because it tells the wrong story about Fort Smith. We really feel it’s one of the finest cities,” Mayor Sandy Sanders said. “Their assertions were highly inaccurate.”
In a statement last month, the mayor said his staff tried to verify the data but couldn’t find matching numbers on the Census Bureau’s website, which 24/7 Wall Street claims to use.
“This article was sandwiched between '20 Italian dishes Italians don’t really eat’ and ‘Top 10 pirated movies from last week,’” Sanders said. “That’s just the kind of blog this is."