BOSTON -- A National League of Cities survey of urban innovation and success ranked seven cities as the best in the country, with Baltimore heading the list, Rochester, N.Y., City Council President Ruth Scott announced last week.

Scott chairs the Community and Economic Development Policy Committee of the National League of Cities, which is sponsoring yearlong research on economic development in cities. The economic policy panel is meeting this week in Boston.

The League of Cities has economic development high on its agenda, Scott said, "as we move into the 21st century and we think of new ways and new ideas to solve old problems."

The survey polled urban development professionals in 320 cities and towns across the country. They were asked to nominate five cities each in the categories of "most successful" and "most innovative" in economic development in the past five years.

Cities rated most innovative were, in order: Baltimore; San Antonio; Boston, St. Paul, Minn.; and, in a tie for fifth place, Minneapolis and Indianapolis. Cities ranked most successful were: Baltimore, Boston, San Antonio, Atlanta and Indianapolis.

Criteria in which the top cities scored consistently high included political leadership, public-private partnerships, downtown development and community consciousness.

Scott said her panel will recommend federal and state actions that can help local development

Boston Mayor Raymond L. Flynn, who is hosting the panel meeting, credited this city's high ranking to an economic and political climate that unites the interests of Boston's neighborhoods to those of downtown businesses.

Boston's achievement "is a testimony to the people in this city and their attitude of cooperation," Flynn said at a press conference announcing the survey results.

The kind of successful alliance Flynn described was found repeatedly among the cities that fared best in the survey, said Professor Ann Bowman, a political scientist from the University of South Carolina at Columbia who conducted the survey.

"What it suggests is that these cities -- {faced with} declining federal funds -- what they did was {bring} together neighborhoods and downtown businesses," Bowman said.

Bowman is performing the research for the League of Cities through the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, Mass.. The results announced last week were preliminary to a more extensive study due in the coming months, she sai