CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Forbes Magazine scours through 70,000 employers across the nation with more than 500 workers. It looks at working conditions, diversity, compensation package, potential for development and company image.

Forbes Magazine then ranks the best by state.

Chesapeake Public Schools came out close to the top this year.

“We were surprised to find we were in the mix, but it was a great validation,” said Chesapeake Superintendent Jared Cotton.

Unlike many on the list, it’s not a product-based business.

“Our most important customer is our students,” Cotton said. “We are here to serve our students. The next generations of future leaders in our communities What we are investing in is going to have a long-lasting impact.”

He said it’s a multifaceted approach to make sure the culture within the school system is healthy.

Cotton said it starts with hiring the best.

“Recruiting the best and brightest, and the way you do that is with a competitive salary package and a benefits package,” he said.

Last year, teachers got a 10% pay bump. Support staff received a 14% pay increase.

Cotton said on top of recruiting, the school division has to retain the talent.

“Many of the things we have done is we spent a lot of time ensuring we are listening to our employees,” he said.

Cotton said the school system also invests in professional development so employees can sharpen their skills. He said it all adds up to making CPS a special place to work.

“We like to say we are a family,” he said. “You can say that all day long, but don’t believe it until they feel it.”

Cotton hopes the recognition encourages more to join the family.

“I’m hoping it causes people to want to apply to come work with us,” he said.

CPS wasn’t the only local employer on the list.

Sentara Healthcare, Riverside Health System, Virginia Beach Public Schools, Old Dominion University, the City of Norfolk and City of Virginia Beach also made the list.

Click here to find the open opportunities within CPS.