College Town Wannabe

Arizona town recruits higher education institutions.

1Forget about recruiting companies to town, Mesa, Ariz. has rolled out the red carpet in its downtown for colleges. “In Mesa, we believe that higher education is economic development,” says Bill Jabjiniak, Mesa’s economic development director. The city sent out requests asking higher educational institutions across the country to open campuses in Mesa.

Well over a dozen university representatives visited, and four have signed up—Benedictine University, Westminster College, Albright College, and Wilkes University. The schools estimate they will have 3,000 four-year college students in town within five years. Mesa’s economic development proposal estimates that every $1 million in economic activity at colleges and universities creates an additional $670,000 in economic activity.

Chip Off the Old Apple

Samsung retools Austin, Texas, plant.

2Even as a jury was deciding whether Samsung Electronics copied from Apple Inc.’s devices, Samsung announced it is spending $4 billion in Austin, Texas, to move its manufacturing plant from digital memory chips to “logic” devices, which function as the “brains” of smartphones and tablet computers, including those used in Apple and Samsung devices.

In addition to the 2,400 workers Samsung already employs in Austin, the retrofit and equipment installation at an existing factory will employ about 2,500 construction workers and equipment vendors. Samsung did not say who it is making the chips for, but analysts say that some are almost certainly for Apple, which uses Samsung’s smartphone chips.

Blight Fight

New Orleans loses its “most blighted” label.

3New Orleans has lost its title as the most blighted city in America, at least according to The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. By its estimates both Detroit and Flint, Mich., had higher percentages of blight, 24 percent and 27 percent respectively in March 2012, compared to an estimated 21 percent in New Orleans, which scored a blight tie with Youngstown, Ohio.

Counting blighted homes is not an exact science. The data center used U.S. Postal Service data to compile its estimate that about 43,680 homes in the Crescent City remain uninhabited and uninhabitable compared to 71,657 in September 2010. Even at its peak, New Orleans still had fewer blighted homes than Detroit, which had an estimated 83,833 blighted properties in March 2012.

No word yet on what impact Hurricane Isaac may have had on the Big Easy’s blight count.

Hot Boomer Love Spots

The Sunshine State ranks high for after-50 dating.

4 There’s another reason beyond the weather for Baby Boomers looking to move to Florida. Seven of’s top 10 cities for retired singles looking for love are in the Sunshine State.

Using data from the 2.5 million members of its online dating community for singles over 50, the website examined which U.S. cities had the highest concentration of retired singles looking for a mate. The results include the Florida cities of Ocala (1), Cape Coral (2), Bradenton (3), Delray Beach (4), Naples (6), Clearwater (7), and Boynton Beach (8). Mesa, Ariz., was No. 5, and Vancouver, Wash., and Salem, Ore., brought up the rear at 9 and 10, appealing to single Boomers who prefer to canoodle by a fire rather than a pool.

Why Ocala? The mega 50-plus community The Villages is close by.

iHerb to Bluegrass

An online seller of herbs plans Kentucky move.

5 iHerb Inc., a California-based online seller of food supplements, has received tax incentives from Kentucky for the next 10 years to build a distribution center in Boone County that would employ 600 people with an average wage of $13 an hour.

The 16-year-old company said it is considering leasing a building in Hebron where it plans to spend $29 million on equipment, improvements, and rent, reports Northern Kentucky Business First.

2 Austin, Texas

3 New Orleans

1 Mesa, Ariz.

4 Ocala, Fla.

5 Boone County, Ky.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Phoenix, AZ, Austin, TX.