AUGUSTA — The city of Augusta has been ranked the 50th-best small “town” in America, out of some 12,000 communities for which data was analyzed, by a website specializing in researching and ranking communities., in its ranking of the top 100 best small towns in America in which to live, rated communities of populations from 1,000 to 20,000 after reviewing some 40 data points for more than 12,000 municipalities. Factors considered included economy, health, housing, civic involvement, education quality and public infrastructure.

Augusta came in as the 50th-best small town in the country, in terms of its overall livability, joining two other Maine communities — Bar Harbor, ranked fifth, and Brunswick, ranked 44th.

“We’re all pretty excited about that,” Mayor David Rollins, an Augusta native, said of the ranking. “It certainly is not a surprise to me. Augusta is a good place to raise a family. Many people have been working extremely diligently in moving us in the right direction. It is fabulous to get noticed on a national level.” compiled the rankings using methodology developed with the Martin Prosperity Institute, and a survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, a market research firm, according to the website.

Matt Nazar, the city’s director of development services, noted that well-known researcher Richard Florida, who as author of “The Rise of the Creative Class” coined the term the “creative economy,” is the director of the Martin Prosperity Institute, which is part of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

Nazar said he was already familiar with before the ranking came out, and the website’s methodology appears solid., according to the site, publishes monthly and annual lists of cities, defining the best places to live. It also works with communities in developing marketing programs showcasing why they are great places to live, to help them retain and attract residents and businesses.

The ranking comes less than a year after the city, in another online ranking website, Movoto, was labeled the most dangerous place in Maine. In that ranking, Augusta was noted for having the highest number of property crimes per person in Maine. But state and local officials noted in response to that ranking that Maine is a low-crime state, and Augusta’s population swells during the day as people come into the city for work or services.

Ranking and list websites are becoming increasingly common.

This one, at least, appears to bring good news for Augusta.

“I often question the methodology of these types of websites, but I am thrilled about Augusta’s endorsement as a top place to live in the United States,” said Rep. Matthew Pouliot, an Augusta native and real estate agent, who, when the “most dangerous” ranking came out in February last year, said he was surprised by the ranking and that he felt safe in Augusta.

Pouliot said he’d heard of but he doesn’t believe it is a site that is often referred to by real estate buyers or sellers. He said other real estate sites such as Zillow, Trulia and seem to be used more often by people researching places to live. He said more people rely on their real estate agents and their own personal experience more than on websites when making decisions about where to live. He said he tries to show people that a community is more than just a score card based on an algorithm.

“I’ve helped many people move to Augusta who are interested in affordable, safe housing options in a good school system,” Pouliot said. “Do we have issues that still need to be addressed in our city? Yes. Does this mean that we aren’t doing truly remarkable things? No. For all who call Augusta home, it’s great to be recognized for the outstanding work being done to build and maintain a prosperous and desirable city — one that I’ve always been proud to live in.”

Nazar, a longtime city employee and a Readfield resident, said business and city leaders can be proud that efforts to improve the quality of life for residents and to make the city the best place in central Maine to live and conduct business have been recognized nationally.’s description of Augusta and why it was ranked 50th says, “The state capital of Maine, Augusta is positioned along the Kennebec River where community leaders are overseeing an expansive riverfront and downtown redevelopment project. Residents stay active with outdoor recreation options that include fishing, hiking and skiing. Education is a top priority at five public schools in Augusta, one private school and the University of Maine at Augusta, and the city boasts an interactive Children’s Discovery Museum. Hospitals in Augusta provide excellent care and the health scene here includes a highly regarded cancer care center.”

Nazar said he wasn’t sure which riverfront or downtown project the site refers to, but speculated it could be a combination of improvements to sites in the city including Mill Park, the former Statler mill site, Market Square in the downtown area, and overall efforts to revitalize the city’s downtown.

Nazar doesn’t think contacted city officials for information, but that it relied instead on Census information and other online data and information sources.

Amarinda Keys, executive director of the Children’s Discovery Museum, said having educational opportunities available is paramount to the success of a community.

“We are thrilled to be able to provide the city and its families with a safe, interactive space to play, learn and grow,” she said. “We are proud to exist in a community that values education and are so thankful for the support of Augusta’s businesses and families.”

Keys, an Augusta resident, said she believes Augusta is an up and coming city.

Rollins praised city staff members for their role in making Augusta a community ranked high for its livability.

“We often hear a lot of criticism, as is the nature of any town, any government,” he said. “But (the ranking) is a result of the hard work of our School Department and Public Safety Department and Public Works Department and all the staff. So we should be very proud, and very eager to trumpet that message everywhere.”

Lebanon, New Hampshire, was ranked No.1 on the list of America’s best small towns.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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