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The Leading South-Atlantic Metros for Economic and Workforce Growth

Area Development ranks the Top MSAs in the South-Atlantic states for economic and workforce growth based on the overall results from our Leading Locations for 2012 study.

Steve Stackhouse-Kaelble (Summer 2012)
Top 7 South-Atlantic Cities

    • City/MSA
    • State
    • Population
    • Overall
      Rank
    • 1.
    • Morgantown
    • WV
    • 129,709
    • 9
    • Morgantown, WVThe small community of Morgantown weathered the recession comparatively well, adding employment fairly steadily (an enviable situation compared with many American cities). Its job growth numbers were in positive territory across the past five years. West Virginia University and its hospital organization are the top employers, and other providers combine with the university's hospital to create a vibrant health care industry. Also high on the list is Mylan Pharmaceuticals, maker of generic drugs.

      Morgantown's status as a university town has a powerful impact on quality of life, and has helped it make a mark on a number of rankings. The community is on Forbes' "Best Small Metros for Business and Careers," Kiplinger's "Smart Places to Live," Inc.'s "Boom Towns" and Men's Journal's "Best Small Towns to Live." Farmers Insurance has also cited it among the "Most Secure Small Cities." It also is known for its unique Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit system linking three university campuses and the downtown area with a network of automated, one-car "people movers."
    • 2.
    • Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville
    • SC
    • 664,607
    • 14
    • 3.
    • Charlottesville
    • VA
    • 201,559
    • 43
    • 4.
    • Fayetteville
    • NC
    • 366,383
    • 50
    • Fayetteville, NCIn 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 Fayetteville operations.

      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.
    • 5.
    • Durham-Chapel Hill
    • NC
    • 504,357
    • 52
    • Durham-Chapel Hill, NCIt's known as the "City of Medicine," a reasonable nickname given the more than 300 medical and health-related companies in the Durham-Chapel Hill area. But as one component of the renowned Research Triangle Park, "City of Medicine" really tells just part of the story. That's because the nation's first science-focused business park targets not just medicine, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology but also information technology and other hot disciplines. Research is a prime driver of the economy, thanks to the presence of prestigious Duke University, which also happens to be the biggest local employer. But even that is just part of the story, as North Carolina Central University also is gaining on the research front, especially biotechnology research.

      Durham-Chapel Hill did not escape the recession unscathed, but in the past year has enjoyed impressive recovery. Positive headlines cover not just Durham itself but its whole section of North Carolina. For example, Durham-based Semprius Inc. picked a community not far away for its first solar cell manufacturing plant. And Burlington Technologies Inc., also not that far from Durham, is adding more than 100 jobs at its specialty textiles factory.
    • 6.
    • Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford
    • VA
    • 162,958
    • 64
    • Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, VAThis MSA - located in Montgomery County, Va. - ranked 6th among Area Development's Top 20 South- Atlantic Cities. Specifically it ranked 5th for Employment Growth (net one-year change as percentage of population) and 48th for 2010 work force 18-44 with BA degree or higher (as percentage of total work force). The county is home to internationally renowned Virginia Tech.

      In confirmation of our rankings, in 2009, Forbes named the Blacksburg metro 31st on its list of the "Best Small Places for Business and Careers," and 14th on its list of "America's Most Educated Small Towns."

      Since 2000, relocating or expanding businesses have invested more than $265 million and created more than 4,600 jobs in Montgomery County, Va. In October 2011, outdoor retailer Backcountry.com announced plans to invest over $20 million to establish a fulfillment center in the county that will create more than 200 new jobs*, and in March of 2011, Modea, a designer of product-focused media, said it would place its headquarters in the county, creating 200 jobs.
    • 7.
    • Greenville-
      Mauldin-Easley
    • SC
    • 636,986
    • 69
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