Leading Locations for 2012: Ranking MSAs for Economic & Job Growth
Area Development ranked 365 MSAs across 23 economic and workforce growth indicators. In the results we see that even amid the recessionary gloom, there were blooms of prosperity, and there are some places that have gotten back on their feet faster than others.
Area Development Special Presentation (Summer 2012)
(page 2 of 3)
Top 100 Leading Locations for 2012 (MSAs Ranked 26-50)
- Salt Lake City
- Ranked 3rd among the Top 10 Mountain
Cities was Cheyenne, which also placed
11th among the Top 50 Small Cities and
12th among the Top 25 Small Cities for its
"Economic Strength" factors.
The area has been a magnet for high-tech
developments, including a recent announcement
of a $112 million Microsoft data
center, a $70 million National Center for
Atmospheric Research Supercomputing
Center, and data centers from EchoStar
Broadcasting Corp. and Green House Data.
Also making headlines in 2012 was a $40
million wind tower plant.
Forbes in 2012 listed Cheyenne among
the top places to retire and to work,
Kiplinger ranked it 3rd "Most Tax-Friendly
City," and the American Lung Association listed it as the nation's cleanest metropolitan
area in terms of 24-hour particle pollution.
It has landed among the "Top Places to Raise
a Family" as ranked by both Forbes and Children's Health magazines.
- Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown
- Waterloo-Cedar Falls
- The Iowa community of Ames ranked 6th
among Area Development's Top 20 Midwest
Cities and 30th among the 100 Leading
Locations. Ames placed 15th for its "Prime
Workforce Growth" among the Top 25
Iowa State University is the top employer
in Ames and also a prime draw for investment.
The Iowa Department of
Transportation supports numerous jobs, as
do local healthcare providers and the federal
government's Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service, while the manufacturing
sector is represented by such names as
Sauer-Danfoss, 3M, Becker Underwood, and
Relocating and expanding businesses have invested $200 million and created
1,000 jobs in the past five years.
TheAtlanticCities.com this year named Ames
the 25th "Best Place for New College
Grads," while Where to Retire ranked it the
8th "Best Place to Retire." It was
NewGeography.com's 56th "Best Small City
for Job Growth" in 2012, and the tech sector
will note that in 2011 Forbes ranked
Ames 13th among the country's "Geekiest
- San Angelo
- Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington
- Jefferson City
- San Antonio-New Braunfels
- Over the past five years, San Antonio has
added more than 36,000 jobs. The MSA
ranked 13th among the Top 25 Big Cities in
"Economic Strength" factors and was 12th
among the Top 20 Southwest Cities.
San Antonio was in the top 10 when The
Wall Street Journal ranked the nation's "Best
Cities for Business" last year, thanks to its
long-term growth in economic output,
decades' worth of job growth, and strong
gains in personal income. Forbes, meanwhile,
recently called it the "9th Happiest
City for Jobs."
Multiple sectors fuel the area's job growth.
The bioscience sector recently got a boost
when it landed headquarters and manufacturing
facilities of Xenex Healthcare Services,
and the automotive sector cheered when
EControls reaffirmed its local commitment
by moving to a larger facility and promising
up to 150 new jobs. Top local employers
include the U.S. military, along with military
financial services giant USAA, Cullen/Frost
Bankers, and Valero Energy. Additionally,
among the MSA's many local headquarters
are the H-E-B supermarket chain and the
tasty Bill Miller Bar-B-Q chain.
- Buffalo-Niagara Falls
- Ranking 7th among Area Development's Top 20 Mid-Atlantic Cities, the Buffalo-
Niagara Falls MSA mixes strong business
growth with enviable quality-of-life factors.
It placed 12th among the Top 25 Big Cities in "Economic Strength" indicators and 9th
among that grouping for its "Recession-
Busting" factors. The area recorded 5,400
new jobs in the last three years, more than
all but 38 of the other 365 MSAs studied
during a stretch when many places saw
their employment rosters shrink.
Prized for a low cost of doing business,
Buffalo also placed 2nd on Forbes' 2011
ranking of most affordable American cities.
It has been spotlighted as one of the country's
cleanest cities, one of the best places for
commuters, a top arts destination, and a
high-ranking place for working mothers.
Beyond the thousands who work at area
healthcare providers and financial institutions,
there's a strong manufacturing sector
that includes Moog Inc., maker of precisioncontrol
components and defense systems,
and the General Motors' Tonawanda Engine
Plant, which is recalling workers, reopening
lines, and creating a new on-site training
center. Also, in 2011, Computer Task Group
announced plans to create 100 jobs in
Buffalo. In all, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise
has welcomed $3.1 billion in investments
and more than 37,000 new jobs since 2000.
- In the 4th spot among Area Development's Top 20 South-Atlantic Cities was
Fayetteville, which also placed 15th overall
among the Top 50 Mid-Size Cities and 4th
for its "Prime Workforce Growth" among
the Top 25 Mid-Size Cities. The city's
three-year and five-year employment
change remained in positive territory
through the recession, a feat envied by
many American cities. Fayetteville also was
14th among the Top 25 Mid-Size Cities for
its "Economic Strength" indicators.
Since 2000, Fayetteville's industrial sector
recorded investments totaling more than
$850 million and creating nearly 6,000 jobs.
The healthcare business remains quite
robust, with the announcement this spring
of a 1,200-job facility by the Department of
Veterans Affairs. The Fayetteville business
scene is diverse, with such headquarters as
M.J. Soffe, Union Corrugating, Nitta Gelatin,
OmniSource, Morty Pride, and Hercules
Steel, plus operations representing everything
from Goodyear Tire and Rubber to
Maidenform to Northrop Grumman to DuPont, which has continued to invest in its
According to Fayetteville's chamber,
recent rankings have placed the community
among the top-five defense industry locations,
2nd highest in the state in per capita
income, among the nation's top-five most
affordable housing markets, and among
Manpower's top national job markets.
Next: Leading Locations for 2012 - MSAs Ranked 51-100
LEADING LOCATIONS FOR 2012 RESOURCES