2009 BEST CITIES


No. 6 Olympia, Washington

Population: 233,113
Income Growth: 22%
Cost of Living Index: 105
Median Household Income: $55,129
Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 36%

Olympia is a cultural diamond in the rough of the Pacific Northwest. Mischaracterized sometimes as a sleepy government town, Washington's state capital -- just 60 miles southwest of Seattle on the southern tip of Puget Sound -- enjoys a thriving visual and performing-arts scene.

Walk down the city's main street, Capitol Way, and you'll discover fashion boutiques, art galleries showcasing the works of local painters and sculptors, coffee houses, and nightclubs. Don't miss Brotherhood Lounge -- better known as Broho -- which features a variety of music, from alternative and indie rock to DJs that spin punk, garage, soul and vintage country.

Trendy? Yes. Profitable? Indeed. Despite the recession, Olympians and visitors are still spending briskly on the arts and eating out. Jenny Shaw, manager of the Urban Onion Restaurant and Lounge, in the Theater District in the heart of downtown, feels lucky that she and her staff haven't felt the recession blues. "Revenues were up 20% in 2008," says Shaw.

Advertisement

But it's the state government that continues to be the keystone of Olympia's economy; it employs about half of the city's working population. Education is another big driver of the city's growth and character. Evergreen State College, a liberal-arts school specializing in the social sciences and visual and performing arts, helps fuel the creative spirit. Saint Martin's University, a private school located in neighboring Lacey, is known for engineering and applied sciences.

NEXT: No. 7 Madison

HOME | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 | Best Cities Center

Editor's Picks From Kiplinger


You can get valuable updates from Kiplinger sent directly to your email. Simply enter your e-mail address and click "sign up".

More Sponsored Links


DISCUSS

Permission to post your comment is assumed when you submit it. The name you provide will be used to identify your post, and NOT your e-mail address. We reserve the right to excerpt or edit any posted comments for clarity, appropriateness, civility, and relevance to the topic.
View our full privacy policy


Advertisement
Get valuable updates from Kiplinger directly to your e-mail

Market Update

Advertisement

Featured Videos From Kiplinger