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February 2016

Seattle's innovation, livability help propel it to "Top City" ranking

JLL City Momentum Index TopicsSeattle joined five other U.S. cities on the Top 20 City Momentum Index compiled by JLL, a commercial real estate services company. London topped the list that ranked 120 business hubs across the globe.

JLL researchers said cities that attract cutting-edge businesses, nurture top talent, leverage technology and provide vibrant, inclusive communities made the list.

Ten characteristics and 37 variables were used to measure innovation, livability and other "essential ingredients to ensure longer-term sustainable momentum." Socio-economic momentum accounts for 40 percent of the model, commercial real estate momentum accounts for 30 percent, and high-value incubators account for the remaining 30 percent.

Success is "no longer purely about size or inherited attributes," according to JLL. The firm suggests "the current cycle of globalization, urbanization and technological advancement is leading to a shake-up of the global urban hierarchy and creating sweeping changes to the geography of commercial real estate opportunity."

JLL Global Research Director Jeremy Kelly said real estate is a key factor in city momentum because it can boost productivity, creativity and entrepreneurship while creating a sense of community.

Researchers cited Amazon's Campus expansion into the Denny Triangle district and the creation of the Global Innovation Exchange facility for the University of Washington and Tsinghua University as factors in Seattle's selection. They also noted its appeal to international real estate investors.

Seattle was No. 18 in 2014, but missed last year's the cut for the top 20.

Other U.S. hubs in the latest Top 20 included Silicon Valley (#2), Boston (#5), New York (#7), San Francisco (#10) and Austin (#16).

In releasing its third annual rankings, JLL said the CMI is unique in that it captures the dynamics of a city's real estate market, from rates of construction and absorption to price moment and the attraction of a city's built environment for cross-border capital and corporations.

JLL is based in Chicago. It has 230 offices situated in more than 80 countries.