OXFORD – In a town accustomed to frequent accolades, one of the latest kudos comes from livability.com, which has named Oxford second on its “2013 Best Small Towns” list.
“People across the country are in search of authentic communities with unique atmospheres, colorful characters and a true sense that there is no other place like it,” says the website. “Sprinkled between major highways and busy airports are drive-by or fly-over cities offering a slower, and some say richer, slice of life.”
Livability.com chose its 2013 honorees from communities with 10,000 to 50,000 residents. Population growth, economics, climate, topography and interviews with residents were among the criteria used.
“Oxford has been called the ‘Hollywood version’ of a Southern town, but the city’s architecture and genteel atmosphere are as genuine as the magnolia trees that shade tailgaters before football games at the University of Mississippi,” the review says.
It notes the town’s literary heritage, its charming downtown and its spot on the website’s Top 10 College Towns list, where Oxford also placed second last year, while adding that despite rapid growth, “Oxford’s treasured character remains intact.”
Recreational facilities, festivals, abundant religious and civic organizations, sophisticated restaurants and Ole Miss athletics round out Oxford’s listed benefits.
Jon Maynard, executive vice president of the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation, said such kudos help boost Oxford’s recognition on a wholesale basis.
“It’s important to us for retiree attraction, for company attraction, for visitor attraction,” he said. “We’re working hard at recruiting health care-related and other high-tech businesses, but when people initially think about moving to Mississippi, they often have a negative, knee-jerk reaction.
“When they come here, they find it’s an absolutely wonderful place to be. It’s nice to have that national recognition so we don’t always have to convince one prospect at a time that we’re a great community.”
Most of the small towns that share the list with Oxford are college towns, outdoor recreation havens or both. They include, in order, Dickinson, N.D.; Rock Springs, Wyo.; Oak Harbor, Wash.; Brookings, S.D.; Los Alamos, N.M.; Alexandria, Minn.; Traverse City, Mich.; West Plains, Mo.; and Cambridge, Md.