Ithaca has the highest well-being in the nation, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a poll of numerous standard-of-living indicators in 357 metropolitan areas released earlier this month.
City of Ithaca Mayor Carolyn Peterson attributed the high well-being rating to the variety of services that are offered by Tompkins County.
“I believe that … our many municipal, educational and service organizations, our dedication to sustainability… and our diverse residents and cultures all contribute to a top ranking,” Peterson said.
The index, launched by Gallup in Jan. 2008, measures the overall well-being of Americans by evaluating six domains: life evaluation, emotional health, physical health, healthy behavior, work environment and basic access to necessities.
In addition to having the highest score in the well-being index, Ithaca also ranked sixth on the life evaluation index, eighth on the physical health index, and ninth on the basic access to necessities index.
According to Michael McLaughlin, a member of the Tompkins County Board of Health and the owner of Pudgie’s Pizza and Subs in Ithaca, Ithaca’s high ranking is an accurate representation of the city. McLaughlin said Ithaca has not been as strongly affected by the nationwide rise in unemployment, credit tightening and foreclosures, unlike other areas in the state.
“Ithaca offers many opportunities and huge diversity to its residents that I feel set a good foundation for people to just plain feel good about their community and themselves,” McLaughlin said.
Dr. William Tyler, another member of the Tompkins County Board of Health, cited the presence of such stable employers as Cayuga Medical Center and Borg Warner, an automotive industry parts supplier, as reasons why Ithacans are generally not as stressed as other people.
Tyler also expressed his appreciation for the educational institutions in the city — including Cornell, Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College — which are also major employers.
“The colleges are most important because they attract people with great intelligence and vitality,” Tyler said.
Tyler said citizen trust in their political leaders is high in Ithaca — another factor he attributes to the high ranking.
“I believe Ithacans and surrounding folks generally trust their government and leaders. Most of [those] leaders are in politics to serve their constituents rather than themselves,” Tyler said.
Mayor Peterson expressed interest in continuing to improve all aspects of the city, adding that continuing to offer the services currently available and promoting healthy behaviors would help Ithaca’s general well-being.
“We become a stronger Ithaca when we understand the makeup of our entire community,” Peterson said.
McLaughlin said he remains cautiously optimistic about Ithaca’s future well-being, although he cited New York State’s nearly $1 billion budget deficit as one factor that has city leaders across the state worried.
“This is the area of my greatest fears. With the state of the state, I worry that we might not be able to continue to offer all the great things that have helped to keep Ithaca’s well being so great,” McLaughlin said. “Hopefully all the resources that make [up] the well-being of the people of this community will be available in the future.”
Original Author: Cindy Huynh