Based upon a strong population growth rate (107% from 2000 to 2010), it is obvious that Hernando is a destination of choice for many. In 2011 Hernando was named to CNN/ Money Magazine's 100 Best Places to Live and was featured in CNN's Great American Small Town Series! The city was also featured in two episodes of ABC's Everyday Health program, which aired in 2012. Hernando has the attributes many individuals, families and businesses are looking for when they relocate, including:
A sense of place. People are looking for uniqueness, and a sense of place or community, whether they are visitors, businesses, or permanent residents. To this end, the city is dedicated to protecting its important historic resources, but also in ensuring that new buildings and developments fit well in the community. Hernando's historic and tree canopied Town Square centers the community and is a popular gathering spot for a variety of activities. Hernando is a connected community. The common bond felt by Hernando residents shows in the level of interest in community activities, like community theatre productions, school and sports activities, art exhibitions, the farmers market, movies on the square, festivals, etc. Hernando is home to the county's arts council (in a 1909 Greek Revival home) and the main branch of the First Regional Library system.
A great school system. Overall academic achievement in the DeSoto County School District is ranked above the national average, and the school district was given a "A" rating in the new state accountability model by the state department of education. Hernando's schools all scored A's. DeSoto County School District is the only district in the state on the Advanced Placement Honor Roll for the number of advanced place courses that are taught and the scores students received.
Safety and security. This is job one for any community, and Hernando stays ahead of the curve by its development philosophy and by ensuring that those charged with keeping the community safe have all the resources they need to do that job.
Good quality housing and great neighborhoods. Hernando has some great historic neighborhoods and, because most of Hernando's growth has occurred since 1990, many new neighborhoods and homes. Housing starts have accelerated in 2011 and 2012, giving residents and newcomers plenty of wonderful housing choices.
Economic vitality. Although the city is part of the Memphis Metropolitan area, and many Hernando residents work in Memphis, the city has its own vibrant economy. DeSoto County consistently ranks in the top two counties for the lowest unemployment rate in the state, and employment categories ranking high in Hernando include manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, retail trade and educational, health and social services. The city has a strong downtown and plenty of neighborhood and community commercial areas, many within walking and biking distance of residential areas.
Beautiful city and healthy natural environment. Hernando has adopted a philosophy of protecting its valuable natural resources and ensuring that the built environment is dignified, durable, well-landscaped, and attractive. Hernando understands how haphazard development patterns and deficient standards can harm property values and hurt both the functionality and attractiveness of a city. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality named Hernando one of only three EnHance cities in the city, noting the city's commitment to energy efficiency, recycling and water quality efforts.
Healthy population. DeSoto County is the healthiest county in Mississippi. In a state that often ranks 50th in any good health measure, this may not sound like much. But the efforts of the DeSoto County School system, the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi (including the DeSoto County Health Council and the Get-A-Life program) and the City of Hernando are all helping to improve the health of the community. Healthy workers are more productive, healthy students are better learners, and improved health saves taxpayers and businesses money. Requirements for sidewalks in all developments, budgeted funds for sidewalk repair and bike lane striping, safe routes to schools programs, smart growth development philosophy, a local Farmers Market and Community Garden, and great parks and recreation programs help take down the barriers to a healthy community. In 2010 Hernando was named the state's first Healthiest Hometown by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, and Kaboom! and named Hernando a "Playful City USA" four years in a row. The city hosts an annual 10K race and runners can find plenty of 5K races and walks, too.
Great city planning. Hernando is fortunate to have had city leaders that had a vision for a well-functioning and attractive city. It is this visionary leadership that supported policies that created and continue to create an attractive and sustainable city. This leadership has put Hernando on the map across the state and the nation and caused some economic development officials in a recent visit to note that the commitment to planning was "obvious"!
Good transportation resources. The city feels that it is important to accommodate all modes of transportation, including automotive, pedestrian and bicycle. Hernando has a goal to be a more walkable and bikeable community, and this is reflected in the development pattern it encourages, established policies that require sidewalks with all new developments, and in new and renovated sidewalks and bike lane striping. A two-mile pedestrian and bikeway is underway along a thoroughfare that connects schools, businesses and residential areas in east Hernando. In addition, Hernando is an extremely accessible city! The intersection of Interstates 55 and 69 is located in Hernando and the city is just minutes from the Memphis International Airport.
Low Taxes. Hernando offers the lowest tax rate among the municipalities in DeSoto County, and Mississippi has some property and sales tax advantages over its neighbors. The homestead exemption benefit in Mississippi helps offset property taxes for residentially classed property. In addition, residents over 65 years old receive a break on homestead property taxes with an exemption of the first $75,000 in property value. Mississippi residents can also get an exemption from state income taxes for all qualified retirement income. The exemptions cover social security income, 401s/403s, IRAs, eligible public and private pensions and federal securities interest income. Value above the $75,000 is taxed at the normal rate. There is no gift tax or intangible personal property tax in Mississippi. In addition, Mississippi sales tax is 7%, compared to 9% in Tennessee.