Awards and Recognitions

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The City of Harrisonburg, Virginia and its departments have been recognized both regionally and nationally for a variety of achievements. This page lists information on some of these awards and recognitions.

Check out these awards to see what makes Harrisonburg a great place to live, work, and play!

More awards, recognitions and designations for Harrisonburg and local businesses can be found through the Tourism website and the Downtown Renaissance website.

Skip to a year:   2016  -  2015  -   2014  -  2013  -  2012  -  2011  -  2010 to 2000

 

2016

  May 2016 #6 Favorite Town in America - Harrisonburg made Travel and Leisure's 30 Favorite Towns in America list. Harrisonburg ranked #6 based on a reader survey!
  April 2016 #16 Safest City in Virginia - Harrisonburg was named one of the safest cities in Virginia by BackgroundChecks.org.
  April 2016 #3 Happiest Mountain Town - by Blue Ridge Country Magazine - Harrisonburg was named one of the Happiest Mountain Towns by voters in a Blue Ridge Country Magazine poll!

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2015

  November 2015 Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community - Harrisonburg was just recognized by the League of American Bicyclists with a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community award!
  October 2015 A Dream Come True Playground Named One of 13 Inclusive Playgrounds That Are Downright Awesome by Red Tricycle - Harrisonburg's A Dream Come True Playground is featured on the list of 13 Inclusive Playgrounds That Are Downright Awesome!
  September 2015 #25 Best Place to Start a Business in Virginia - NerdWallet considered six metrics in two categories — business environment and the local economy. Out of 112 places in Virginia with populations of at least 5,000, Harrisonburg ranked #25!
  September 2015 Top Ten Mountain Bike Town - Harrisonburg was named one of the top ten Mountain Bike Towns in the country by National Geographic!
  August 2015 #32 Best Small Places for Business and Careers and 12th in Cost of Doing Business by Forbes. In Forbes annual list of the Best Places for Business and Careers, Harrisonburg placed 32nd for small towns and ranked 12th in Cost of Doing Business.
  August 2015 Leading Location for Economic and Job Growth by Area Development. Harrisonburg ranked 4 out of 10 Virginia metropolitan statistical areas and 178 out of 373 US metropolitan statistical areas analyzed by Area Development for economic and job growth.
  July 2015 #6 Safest City in Virginia from Severe Weather by HomeownersInsurance.com - To find the safest cities, analysts used a variety of storm data points to create total score for 47 Virginia cities with populations greater than 10,000. Analysts used the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration storm events database to factor in occurrences of flooding, wind, hail and lightning in each area. Full report.
  April 2015 #2 Safest Metro Area in the South - The Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County Metro Area was listed as the second safest metro area in the South based on FBI data according to Law Street Media.
  April 2015 2014 Excellence in Waterworks Operations/Performance Award - The Virginia Department of Health Office of Drinking Water recently announced that Harrisonburg’s Public Utilities Department has been recognized for the operations and performance in providing clean drinking water to the community! PDF[166KB] Read more in the press release.
  March 2015 19th Most Healthy City/County in Virginia - County Health Rankings rated Harrisonburg the 19th Most Healthy City/County in Virginia out of 134 cities/counties in the state!
  March 2015 Virginia Main Street Milestone Achievement Award by Virginia Main Street Program - Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance received the Virginia Main Street Milestone Achievement Awards for the contribution of more than 90,000 volunteer hours dedicated to downtown revitalization,  for creating an environment that has encouraged more than $60 million in private investment, and the documented completion of 250 building improvements over the last 11 years.
  March 2015 Top Regional Travel Destination for Mountain Bikers - Harrisonburg made the Singletracks list of most popular regional travel destinations for mountain bikers for 2015! *Harrisonburg tied for 8th for a destination for people who live in the Northeastern United States.
  March 2015 Top Government Social Media Leader - Wanda Willis from HFD received Honorable Mention in this category for the Golden Post Awards from Government Social Media LLC.
  March 2015 Finalist for Comprehensive Government Social Media Policy for the Golden Post Awards - Harrisonburg was named a finalist for the Golden Post Award for Comprehensive Government Social Media Policy.

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2014

  December 2014 #7 Most Improved Virginia City for Crime Rate - Safe Choice Security named Harrisonburg as a Virginia city that has significantly decreased crime successfully. Harrisonburg ranked #7.
  November 2014 Best Place to Be a Millennial by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine - Harrisonburg was named the Best Place to Be a Millennial by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine in their Top Outdoor Towns of the Blue Ridge for 2014!
  October 2014 #7 Most Caring Small City in America by Movoto Real Estate - Out of 140 small cities in America, Harrisonburg ranked #7 Most Caring Small City. Cities were ranked based on student-counselor ratio, crimes per 100,000 people (the lower the better), pet shelters and rescue per capita, community services per capita, mental health counselors and therapists per capita, and percent of workers who carpool (caring for the environment).
  October 2014 Cardinal Award by the Virginia Economic Developers Association (VEDA) - Brian Shull, the City's Economic Development Director, received the Cardinal Award by VEDA for leadership in the field of economic development, outstanding professional accomplishments, and exceptional service to the organization itself. PDF[159KB] Read more in the press release.
  September 2014 Community Health and Safety Award by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). ICMA named Harrisonburg's "Risk Watch Summer Safety Program" as a recipient of the Community Health and Safety Award at its annual conference! PDF[204KB] Read more in the press release.
  August 2014 Leading Location for Economic and Job Growth by Area Development. Harrisonburg ranked 6 out of 11 Virginia metropolitan statistical areas and 111 out of 379 US metropolitan statistical areas analyzed by Area Development for economic and job growth.
  August 2014 #30 Best Small Places for Business and Careers by Forbes. In Forbes annual list of the Best Places for Business and Careers, Harrisonburg placed 30th for small towns.
  August 2014 Site for the Kennedy Center's Any Given Child Program - The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts chose Harrisonburg, Virginia as Partner City for the Any Given Child Program which creates a long-range arts education plan for students Grades K-8. Read the Press Release.
  July 2014 8th Most Exciting Place in Virginia - The Movoto Real Estate Blog named Harrisonburg as the 8th Most Exciting Place in Virginia based on factors such as nightlife, live music venues, arts, restaurants, and age of residents.
  June 2014 Governor's Transportation Safety Award - Thanh Dang, Planner for the City Public Works Department, received the 2014 Governor's Transportation Safety Award in the category of Pedestrian and Bike Safety from the Department of Motor Vehicles and Virginia Highway Safety Office! PDF[761KB] Read the Press Release.
  May 2014 College Towns That Offer Way More Than Education - Harrisonburg was named one of Five College Towns That Offer Way More Than Education by FlipKey.
  May 2014 2014 Great American Main Street Award - The National Main Street Center chose downtown Harrisonburg as a 2014 Great American Main Street Awards winner!
Criteria for winning include: strength of the Main Street in creating an exciting place to live, work, play and visit; commitment to historic preservation; implementation of model partnerships, and demonstrated success of the Main Street Four-Point Approach. Read the Press Release.
  April 2014 Fastest Growing City in Virginia by NerdWallet- Harrisonburg was ranked the Fastest Growing City in Virginia by NerdWallet! The study was based on population growth, employment growth, and income growth from 2009-2012. Harrisonburg ranked #1 out of 42 cities!
  March 2014 Top 10 Semifinalist for the 2014 Great American Main Street Award by the National Main Street Center. Learn more.
  March 2014 Virginia Main Street Milestone Achievement Award by Virginia Main Street Program - Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance received the Virginia Main Street Milestone Achievement Award for the contribution of more than 85,000 volunteer hours dedicated to downtown revitalization and for creating an environment that has encouraged more than $55 million in private investment in the city's historic commercial district.
  March 2014 23rd Safest City in Virginia - In a report from SafeWise, Harrisonburg was ranked the 23rd Safety City in Virginia based on the most recent FBI crime data.
  February 2014 Top U.S. Town for Romance - In the February edition of The Municipal magazine, Harrisonburg was named a Top U.S. Town for Romance for its beautiful views, accommodations, and attractions.
  January 2014 Downtown Culinary District - On January 28, 2014 City Council approved a resolution that designates downtown Harrisonburg as the first Culinary District in the state of Virginia! Read the resolution.

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2013

  November 2013 5th Best College Town in America by Travel + Leisure - In Travel + Leisure America's Favorite Towns survey, Harrisonburg was ranked number five for America's Best College Towns.
  October 2013 13th Most Secure Small City in the US by Farmers Insurance - Farmers Insurance ranked Harrisonburg the 13th Most Secure Small City (population less than 150,000) in the United States based on economic stability, crime statistics, extreme weather, risk of natural disasters, housing depreciation, foreclosures, air quality, environmental hazards, life expectancy, motor vehicle fatalities, and employment numbers.
  October 2013 Best Beer Town and One of the Best Mountain Towns by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine - In the magazine's annual Best Mountain Towns poll, Harrisonburg was named a Best Mountain Town and took the title of "Best Beer Town".
  October 2013 Harrisonburg Police Department (HPD) Placed First in the National Capitol Regional (NCR) SWAT Competition - HPD sent a small group of its SWAT Members to participate in the NCR SWAT Competition on October 11, 2013 at the Firearms Training Center in Dickerson, Maryland. The HPD SWAT Team took 1st Place Overall, 1st Place in the Bearcat Rescue, 2nd Place in Rifle Challenge, and 3rd Place in Crack House Shootout, and Sniper Initiated Assault. Read press release. PDF[145KB]
  October 2013 Top Mountain Bike Towns in America by USA TODAY - Harrisonburg was listed in a USA TODAY article "America's Top Mountain Bike Towns". Read the article.
  August 2013 #43 Best Small Places for Business and Careers by Forbes. In Forbes annual list of the Best Places for Business and Careers, Harrisonburg placed 43rd for small towns.
  June 2013 Top Ten Cycling Destinations by Virginia Living - Harrisonburg was featured as a Top Ten Favorite Cycling Destination by Virginia Living Magazine.
  June 2013 One of the Least Likely Cities in America for Car Theft by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) - The NICB's Hot Spots report examines vehicle theft data obtained from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) for each of the nation's Metropolitan Statistical Areas to determine the most and least likely cities for car theft.
  June 2013 #18 Smartest City in America by Lumosity.com - Lumosity.com released a study based off data from more than 3 million people in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 75 who had played several Lumosity brain-training games.
  May 2013 #51 Best Small Sized City for Job Growth and #90 Best City for Job Growth by New Geography - New Geography uses metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports monthly employment data to compile their list of Best Cities for Job Growth.
  April 2013 2013 Margaret A. Nicholas Risk Management Leadership Award by the Virginia Municipal League Insurance Programs (VMLIP) - This was given to Harrisonburg for taking a proactive role in evaluating risk management and utilizing training materials provided by VMLIP. See press release. PDF[1.5MB]
  March 2013 Virginia Main Street Milestone Achievement Award by Virginia Main Street Program - Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance received the Virginia Main Street Milestone Achievement Award for the contribution of more than 80,000 volunteer hours dedicated to downtown revitalization.
  March/April 2013 Great Town for Living by Blue Ridge County Magazine  - Blue Ridge County Magazine highlighted Harrisonburg as one of eight Great Towns for Living.
  February 2013 Best Places For A Working Retirement by Forbes. Forbes examined job growth trends and unemployment rates along with cost of living issues, taxes and other factors like crime rates, doctors per capita, and air quality to determine the 25 best U.S. cities for a working retirement.
  February 2013 #9 Safest City to Live in America by CQ Press - CQ Press released its updated list of safest cities in the country. CQ Press compared the rate of six specific crimes to the national crime rate to compile the list. Harrisonburg ranked number 9 out of 358.
  January 2013 #22 Best Performing City in the Country and #2 in Virginia for 2012 by The Milken Institute - The Milken Institute ranked Harrisonburg #22 (out of 179 smallest metros) in the Country and #2 in Virginia in their Best Performing Cities report which ranks cities across the country as to how well they are doing in "creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth."

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2012

  December 2012 Best Biking Community by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine - In Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine Editor's Adventure Picks, Harrisonburg was selected as the Best Biking Community.
  November 2012 Top Mountain Biking Mecca by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine - The magazine released a poll on Best Mountain Towns and while Harrisonburg was a "close contender" to the Best Mountain Town award, it was voted overall a Top Mountain Bike Mecca.
  September 2012

Pinnacle Award (City Website) by the National Association of Government Webmasters - www.harrisonburgva.gov was awarded the NAGW Pinnacle Award for the Small Population Group: for organizations with a population of less than 50,000. See press release. PDF[398KB]

NAGW Pinnacle

  August 2012 #3 Shortest Commute and #3 Youngest Community by CNN Money Magazine - In the Quality of Life category of CNN Money Magazine's annual list of Best Places to Live, Harrisonburg ranked #3 for Shortest Commute and #3 for Youngest Community in the Quality of Life category for America's small cities.
  June 2012 One of the Least Likely Cities in America for Car Theft by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) - The NICB's Hot Spots report examines vehicle theft data obtained from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) for each of the nation's Metropolitan Statistical Areas to determine the most and least likely cities for car theft.
  May 2012 #66 Best Small Sized City for Job Growth and #105 Best City for Job Growth by New Geography - New Geography uses metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports monthly employment data to compile their list of Best Cities for Job Growth.
  February 2012

Bronze Level Ride Center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA)  - The Ride Center designation represents IMBA's Model Trail recognition for large-scale mountain bike facilities that offer something for every rider.

International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Ride Center Designation

  January 2012 Downtown Harrisonburg received Second Place for Best Shopping Destination of the Shenandoah Valley by Virginia Living Magazine - In the "Best of Virginia" Issue by Virginia Living, Downtown Harrisonburg was voted second place for Best Shopping Destination of the Shenandoah Valley.
  January 2012 #18 Best Performing City in the Country and #2 in Virginia for 2011 by The Milken Institute - The Milken Institute ranked Harrisonburg #18 (out of 179 smallest metros) in the Country and #2 in Virginia in their Best Performing Cities report which ranks cities across the country as to how well they are doing in "creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth."

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2011

  September 2011 The City's "A Dream Come True Playground" was awarded Best New Facility by the Virginia Recreation and Parks Society. PDF[141KB] See press release.
  August 2011 Downtown Renaissance received National Trust Main Street Accreditation by the National Trust Main Street Center - The National Trust and its partners announce the list of accredited Main Street programs that have built strong revitalization organizations and demonstrate their ability in using the Main Street Four-Point Approach methodology for strengthening their local economy and protecting their historic buildings. More information on this accreditation.
  June 2011 One of the Least Likely Cities in America for Car Theft by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) - The NICB's Hot Spots report examines vehicle theft data obtained from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) for each of the nation's Metropolitan Statistical Areas to determine the most and least likely cities for car theft.
  May 2011

Bicycle Friendly Community Bronze DesignationBicycle Friendly Community Bronze Designation by the League of American Bicyclists - The BFC program recognizes communities that promote bicycling and provides technical assistance in the form of a roadmap to help cities build great communities for bicycling. PDF[145KB] See press release.

  May 2011

Appalachian Trail Community

Appalachian Trail Community by the Regional Partnership of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) - The Appalachian Trail Community program is designed to recognize communities that promote and protect the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). Towns, counties, and communities along the A.T.'s corridor are considered assets by A.T. hikers and many of these towns act as good friends and neighbors to the Trail.

  March 2011 Virginia Main Street Milestone Awards by Virginia Main Street Program - Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance and the City received Virginia Main Street Milestone Achievement Awards for private investment and volunteer commitment in downtown revitalization efforts.

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2010-2000

  2010 Best New Facility - Harrisonburg Parks and Recreation was awarded Best New Facility (Population 25,001-50,000) for A Dream Come True Playground by the Virginia Recreation and Park Society.
  August 2010 #41 Best Small Place for Business and Careers by Forbes. In Forbes annual list of the Best Places for Business and Careers, Harrisonburg placed 41st for small towns.
  March 2010 One of the 10 Places to Launch a Second Career in Retirement by US News. Read more.
  2009 Harrisonburg Designated a Preserve America Community.
  August 2009 15th Best City to Raise an Outdoor Kid by Backpacker Magazine and The Outdoor Foundation. Read more.
     
     

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