Two years ago, fDi magazine took its Locations of the Future benchmarking exercise to the North American market for the first time. This year, we have taken a different approach. Rather than carving up the continent into US cities and states, Canadian cities and provinces, and Mexican states, as we did last time, we have treated North America as our corporate readers do: as a vast, integrated marketplace.

The results have been interesting to note. Guadalajara, coming in at number five, bested the national capital Mexico City (eighth) in the top 10 list of the major cities; on the same list, Pittsburgh came in ahead of such heavyweights as Boston and Miami. The Mexican city of Juarez topped the large-city ranking – the category in which Mexico had its strongest showing.

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My home state of Alabama does well with its small cities, producing two of the top 10 in that category. Ontario does even better, with four, including the number one small city, Windsor. Although, as might be expected, the US has the biggest number of top 10 cities in the higher population brackets, perhaps somewhat surprisingly it was most dominant in the micro cities category, led by Zapata, Texas.

One thing remained the same in this new-and-improved competition, however: Chicago’s leading position. The impressive midwestern city has only improved since it came out at the top of the US Cities of the Future 2005/06 ranking. Even with the greatly expanded field of competition, Chicago triumphed again, leading the continent-wide major cities category. Likewise, Ontario, our Canadian Province of the Future 2005/06, has a good representation across the top 10 lists in all the city categories, from major to micro.

Although it is always exciting to see newcomers and lesser-known locations break into such international rankings, it is also good to know that success often breeds success and that cities at the top of their game can stay there for a while.

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Courtney Fingar