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Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

New Orleans is becoming a 'brain power' mecca ranked at number one according to a new Forbes study.

The City's rich musical culture isn't just drawing tourists, but transplants wanting to put down roots.

'We found a place and we bought it and we're renovating it. My dad moved down here with my boyfriend, and we're all working on the house together,' said Saegan Swanson.

In November, the UC Berkeley graduate packed up her belongings and moved across the country to join non-profit Propeller in the Broadmoor area. The 26-year-old says she's drawn to the Crescent City not only as an artist, but because real estate is reasonable unlike San Francisco.

'Everything is so expensive, incredibly expensive, and incredibly competitive. It was impossible for us to afford it,' said Swanson.

More and more people like her are moving to the area.

Forbes just ranked greater New Orleans as tied for the title of number 1 'brain power city' in the country. The study says from 2007 to 2012, the region 44,000 graduates which is a 20.3 percent increase, nearly double the national average of 10.9 percent.

'The fact that we're number one in the nation in the growth of people with college degrees, almost double the national rate, is something that we have been seeing,' said GNO Inc. President & CEO, Michael Hecht. He says the perfect combination of affordability and culture is drawing in more young and college educated people.

Hecht confirms what is also driving the 'brain power' population spike are many evacuees returning after the storm.

'I think simply put, you can get more for less in New Orleans as an individual and as a company than anywhere else in America,' said Hecht.

According to the Greater New Orleans Data Center, in 2013 just over half of the city's 72 neighborhoods recovered 90 percent of their pre-Katrina populations.

'There's something about this city that kind of feels like you're getting in on the ground floor of something exciting. It's just in the air everywhere you go,' said Swanson.

New Orleans tied with San Antonio for the number one spot in the Forbes study. The cities that placed in the top ten include: Nashville, Louisville, Houston, Denver, Salt Lake City, Jacksonville and Raleigh.

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