I have often used this space to praise Columbia, Howard County and our community in general. It is one thing to believe that Columbia is a wonderful place. It is another thing for that belief to be validated with a prestigious award from a major publication.

Columbia being named the best small city to live in by Money magazine is a thrill and an honor, particularly given how many other wonderful communities there are in this country within the population range of 50,000 to 300,000 people. Several of those communities are regularly in the Top 10 of the magazine’s rankings. Columbia has been as well; alongside Ellicott City, we were No. 4 in 2006, No. 8 in 2008, No. 2 in 2010, No. 8 in 2012 and No. 6 in 2014.

To consistently be ranked in the Top 10 says a great deal about the quality of life here. That high quality of life is the motivation behind Columbia Association’s (CA) mission. We are exceedingly proud that Columbia received this recognition, and we believe that one of the reasons for it is the collective hard work and efforts of all CA team members.

Also, I have often used this space to praise our many community partners and other stakeholders that make Columbia such a wonderful place.

Thank you to the Howard County Government, a partner that is similarly invested in keeping this a community of choice for those who live, work and play here; to the Howard County Public School System, its teachers and other staff, who have provided such a high quality of education over the years that families have been drawn here for decades; to the Howard County Library System, whose libraries and programming have also been singled out for being the best and allow even more opportunities for education, entertainment and culture.

Thank you to Howard Community College and Howard County General Hospital, institutions that also are leaders in their respective fields and each day display a commitment to excellence in service to our residents and others. Thank you to the business community, which has invested in Columbia and Howard County and attracts a high caliber of employee here. The financial strength of this area is reflected in the fact that Howard County has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state and is a location that a growing and diverse list of enterprises call home.

Thank you to the nonprofits and charities who are dedicated to serving those in need — helping to ensure that the ability to be happy and healthy in Howard County is available to all. Thank you to those behind signature events and destinations, including Columbia Festival of the Arts, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Symphony of Lights and Wine in the Woods. Thank you to the volunteers who give their time, financial support and energy, because they know the value of contributing any way they can to places and people they know and love.

Thank you all.

We should all be proud. We have long been a community of choice because of the pride people take in being in Columbia and Howard County. We are number one because of each and every one of you.

E-mail milton.matthews@columbiaassociation.org with questions/comments.