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Business notes: Charleston among top US cities for remote working | Business

A recent study could prove to be good news for Kanawha Valley realtors — at least home realtors.

Factoring a balance of affordability, livability and connectivity, PC Magazine ranked the top 60 work-from-home cities in the United States and Canada. The list features 50 American cities, along with 10 from north of the border. It’s a mix of metropolis, mid-size cities, small towns and suburbs, including No. 2 Bear Valley Springs, California, (population 5,389), No. 11 Philadelphia (pop. 1.569 million) and No. 31 Pittsburgh, Kansas (pop. 20,278).

A notable mid-sized city in the top half of the list? One of only two state capitals on the list, Charleston — with a listed population at 49,384 — came in 26th.

“Charleston scored well on the percentage of people working in health care, and for low real estate prices,” said Sascha Segam, lead analyst for PC Magazine who co-authored the report with Kim Key. “It looks relatively easy to find an affordable home in Charleston and still live something of a ‘city’ lifestyle, with the presence of the state capital letting the city punch above its weight for its size.”

Chattanooga, Tennessee, which was nicknamed “Gig City” after becoming the first American city to provide a citywide gigabit network, tops the rankings.

“In 2020, it was evident that Chattanooga has been able to attract talent from major cities and companies,” venture capitalist Santosh Sankar of Dynamo Managment told PC Magazine. “I’ve run into folks who work for Spotify, Stripe, Netflix, et al. The quality of life was a major reason many of these folks moved from places [such as New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles].”

PC Magazine explained the study only included cities with median home values of less than $500,000. It then split its considerations into two categories — affordability and livability.

That affordability score was split with 30% going to a median home value index provided by BestPlaces.net, with lower values receiving a better rating. The remaining 20% went to the minimum price for gigabit broadband, with better ratings going toward lower-priced options.

The livability portion of the study was divvied as such: 10% each for median home size; percentage of home-based workers in the community; and attractive settings (nearby coasts, mountains, parks, etc.). Coffee shops; percentage of local restaurants that aren’t chains; percentage of residents in arts and education; and percentage of residents in health care diagnostic and treatment professions each accounted for 5%.

Charleston’s report card in PC Magazine’s study reads:

Lowest cost for gigabit broadband: $80 (Xfinity from Comcast)

Median home price: $120,300

Median home size: 5.7 rooms

Coffee shops per 100K: 22

Non-chain restaurants: 72%

Workers in arts and education: 9.0%

Health care practitioners: 6.9%

The report also noted Charleston “offers a performing arts center in the downtown district, as well as the Haddad Riverfront Park on the banks of the Kanawha River. The Kanawha State Forest is just seven miles south of Charleston and has a campground, a playground, and a 9,300-acre forest to explore.”

Weirton was the only other city in West Virginia to make the list, coming in at No. 30.

“The No. 1 thing people in West Virginia should take away from this is that they don’t need to move to ‘superstar cities’ for opportunity,” Segam said. “Yes, a lot of West Virginia still lacks reliable broadband — I don’t want to minimize that challenge. It’s a real problem.

“But in the new work-from-home world, people shouldn’t need to move away to seek their fortune in tech or other high-paying knowledge industries. With a gigabit connection, your fortune can come to you.”

In addition to Philadelphia, three other areas from states bordering West Virginia made the list: No. 7 Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania; No. 29 Cumberland, Maryland; and No. 42 Randallstown, Maryland. No cities or towns from Kentucky, Ohio or Virginia were in the top 60.

KROGER STORE EXPANSION CONTINUES: A spokesperson for Kroger said work continues to expand its Scott Depot location and should be finished by summer.

The $23 million project to convert the building formerly occupied by Kmart at 302 Great Teays Boulevard began last August. At more than 90,000 square feet, it will be larger than the current Kroger store and will create between 85 and 100 new jobs.

The new location will also house a Starbucks and Murray’s Cheese, while also serving as a traditional Kroger grocery store.

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