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University of Maryland College Park Campus. MF-D 8/31/06.
The University of Maryland, College Park (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

Maryland’s college towns lackluster, report says

When it comes to good college towns, Maryland has some work to do.

College Park ranked No. 110 (out of 280 cities) on WalletHub’s new list of “2014’s Best and Worst College Cities & Towns in America.”

Baltimore came in even lower; at No. 192. Other college towns across the state, such as Salisbury, got no love at all.

The report is timely in Maryland, because the state recently announced a new incentive program aimed at boosting certain kinds of economic activity in areas surrounding colleges, universities and other institutions.

Under the state’s RISE Zone program, businesses in certain industries that relocate or expand into one of the designated areas would be able to receive tax credits and priority consideration for other state incentive programs.

The program was designed to leverage the expertise of the state’s colleges, universities and federal research hubs, and amplify their potential to create new jobs and activity in the surrounding region.

But even if that program turns out to be wildly successful, Maryland’s college towns wouldn’t magically skyrocket up the rankings. Lots of other factors are at play, such as the number of part-time jobs that are available (the RISE Zone program aims to stimulate development in hot industries, like cybersecurity, rather than fast-casual dining.)

The WalletHub report also looked at cities’ crime rates, cost-of-living, nightlife options, demographics and other factors — important stuff like the average cost of a pizza. Seriously… that’s in there.

When the rankings were organized into groups of small, medium and large cities, Maryland’s towns performed better. College Park was No. 35 among small cities; Baltimore was No. 48 among large cities.

About Alissa Gulin

Alissa Gulin covers health care, education and general business at The Daily Record.