Colorado Springs isn't just one of the best places to live, according to a national news publication. Now, it's one of the most desirable areas to call home, too - topped by only one, paradise-like city.

In its 2017 analysis of the nation's 100 most populous metro areas, U.S. News & World Report on Tuesday ranked Colorado Springs as the 11th-best place to live. That's down from No. 5 last year, yet still allows the Springs to brag.

"We've been discovered," said Dirk Draper, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and EDC. "I'm really pleased that we continue to be recognized as a great place to live. Whether it's No. 5 or No. 11, the specific ranking on the list is less important than being recognized as one of those communities."

U.S. News' analysis of best places assigns scores to each metro area based on several factors. They include quality of life (crime rates, quality and availability of health care, education and commute times); the job market (unemployment rate and wages); value (how comfortably typical residents can afford to live within their means); desirability (whether people want to live in a particular metro area); and net migration (a measure of whether people are relocating to an area or moving away).

The Springs wound up with an overall score of 7.1 out of 10 when all factors were combined, U.S. News said.

"Colorado Springs might not jump off the map as an economic or cultural hub the way larger metro areas like Denver do," according to U.S. News. "But in a quieter, gentler way, Colorado Springs has much to offer, including a low cost of living, a low unemployment rate and a variety of recreation and entertainment options."

Austin, Texas, ranked No. 1 in this year's U.S. News list with an overall score of 7.8. Denver, which had topped U.S. News' rankings in 2016, slipped a notch to No. 2 with a score of 7.5. San Juan, in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, scored 2.8 and ranked last.

Draper said the Springs' quality of life, its workforce, schools and business climate all are factors in boosting the city's profile. "All those things come together to put Colorado Springs in the national spotlight," he said.

But wait, there's more.

U.S. News also looked at the top 25 most desirable places - cities where many people would choose to live if they could, based on Google consumer surveys.

Honolulu ranked No. 1. But Colorado Springs came in at No. 2 among desirable places - ahead of Denver, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.

"Those of us who live here aren't surprised to hear that because it's a great place to be," Draper said.

The Springs' desirability ranking mirrors a national survey conducted by an economic development marketing firm for the Chamber and EDC as part of its larger marketing plan, he said.

In interviews with people in the workforce, nearly 80 percent of respondents said they'd move to Colorado for a job, Draper said. Of that group, 97 percent of respondents said they'd come to the Springs for work.

"It's the best of both worlds," Draper said of a theme the Chamber and EDC is using in its marketing. "We've got access to big cities, access to Denver, and we've got some large city amenities. But we also have a small town feel that we've retained as well."

Business writer, Colorado Springs Gazette

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