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Ann Arbor Spark

October 11, 2019

Ann Arbor vs. Champaign – How do we compare?

Our football blog series is back for the fourth straight year! We use the football season as an incentive to compare Ann Arbor to cities around the country represented by our U-M football competition. The question is always – how does Ann Arbor compare to other college towns in the US?

These teams have a long history – the first time the Wolverines faced the Fighting Illini was 1898. To put that in perspective, at that time McKinley was president, the US had just annexed Hawaii, the Treaty of Paris ended the Spanish-American War, and Marie and Pierre Curie announced the discovery of an element they called radium. The two teams have faced each other 95 times in total and have only tied twice.

Bringing us up to present day, our two college towns are quite similar, though Urbana-Champaign presents a slight challenge since they are technically twin cities (or metros that have grown into each other over time, losing their mutual buffer zone). For calculating the population that gets tricky, so we’ve decided to sum them up and call it one city.

The University is home to The Research Park at the University of Illinois – a technology hub that cultivates startups and accelerates corporate innovation. Located on campus, the Research Park has more than 120+ companies and growing, employing 2,100 people in high-technology careers. In addition, The Research Park is home to EnterpriseWorks, a 43,000 square foot business incubator for early-stage tech firms housing 70+ startups. This model is slightly different from U-M, who works closely with SPARK and other startup incubators affiliated with the university to commercialize technology and create companies right here at home.

Data Dive

Where do we get our numbers? And what do they mean?

  • Population comes from the US Census, 2017 Population Estimates. Check out Ann Arbor’s data here.
  • Enrollment comes from each university’s website (what they report on enrollment).
  • Research spend comes from the National Science Foundation Rankings by Total R&D Expenditures.
  • Educational attainment comes from the US Census 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. We look specifically at the population over the age of 25, and the highest level attained. Check out Ann Arbor’s data here.
  • The rankings come from US News and World Report unless otherwise mentioned.