CRESTVIEW — The Hub City is the No. 4 college town in the country, according to the American Institute for Economic Research, which ranked areas with less than 250,000 residents.
Business Insider credited the city with having an average income of $41,852 per capita and a college student concentration of 82.3 per 1,000 people.
Northwest Florida State College and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's nearby campuses also helped Crestview get within the top five of the 20-town list.
Ithaca, N.Y. was No. 1; Ames, Iowa, No.2; State College, Penn., No. 3; and Iowa City, Iowa was No. 5.
Former state senator Durell Peaden said the city earning the honor is "impressive."
"It's very remarkable for our small country town," Peaden said. "It shows that we are definitely on the right track."
In addition to bringing the Florida International University physician assistant program to Crestview, Peaden is responsible for the Florida Agriculture and Mathematics University's Pharmacy School in downtown Crestview.
With satellites, the pharmacy school and Embry-Riddle allow college students to interact with main campuses in larger cities.
This type of technology puts Crestview and Okaloosa County "ahead of the curve," Peaden said. "With this type of technology, you don't have to go to Gainesville or Tallahassee; you got the prime source here."
Although there are several Embry-Riddle campuses in Okaloosa County, including Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base, Crestview's campus holds a certain standing, Embry-Riddle representative Ron Garriga said.
"Crestview has the highest percentage of projected enrollment out of all the 150 (Embry-Riddle) satellite campuses, both domestically and abroad," he said.
The success is due to the good working relationship between the university and area aeronautical-related employers, which provide financial assistance to Embry-Riddle students, Garriga said.
Peaden said he hopes to add more collegiate opportunities to Crestview soon. He said giving residents more opportunities for higher education is beneficial to city growth.
"I believe economic development should be focused on education," he said.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.