Rochester, MN Ranked Highest for Resilience

The Resilience Capacity Index ranks 361 metropolitan areas for their capacity to recover from stresses -- recession, natural disaster, etc. -- relatively unscathed.

Metropolitan areas in the South and West did not score well in a new ranking called the Resilience Capacity Index that is available on the website of Building Resilient Regions (BRR), a group of experts whose research is supported by the MacArthur Foundation. The top-ranked metro area is Rochester, Minn., while the lowest-ranked is College Station-Bryan, Texas. The rankings were released July 11.

Houston, Los Angeles, San Antonio, and Miami all ranked near the bottom of the index.

BRR Network member Kathryn Foster of the University of Buffalo's Regional Institute created the index. She explained in a Q&A on the BRR website that 12 factors are included in the scoring. They are grouped into three categories: regional economy, social and demographic factors, and community connectivity. She said network research shows "there are two basic ways to think about resilience. One is as a performance measure -— how well did my region respond to and recover from a stress? The other is as a capacity measure —- how well positioned is my region to respond and recover effectively from a stress? The RCI focuses on capacity. It is a single ranking number that accounts for 12 factors we believe make regions more resilient."

Regional economy factors are economic diversification, income equality, regional affordability, and overall business environment. Social and demographic factors are educational attainment in the region, percentage of the population living in poverty, percentage with disabilities, and percentage with health insurance. Community connectivity include voter participation, homeownership, how long people have lived in the region, and civic infrastructure.

Asked why civic participation and health insurance are included, she said civic participation is an indicator of civic engagement. Having community networks affords communities a foundation for assistance and support during crises and also a way for residents to become involved in their own communities, she said, and having health insurance provides a foundation for social, physical, and economic security.

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