• Free for qualified executives and consultants to industry

  • Receive quarterly issues of Area Development Magazine and special market report and directory issues


Leading Locations for 2013: The Midwest MSAs

August 2013
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the Seventh District — which includes all of Iowa and most of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin — is 50 percent more concentrated in overall manufacturing than the nation. Food processing is a major industry as is automotive manufacturing (the region also produces 30 percent of the nation’s light vehicles) and specializes in construction and farm machinery, medical equipment, and steel products.

The Midwest region’s Leading Location is Columbus, Indiana, which also ranked first among all small cities. The city, which ranked fourth in the nation in 2010 for its GDP, is known for its manufacturing expertise and engineering strengths and is also a national leader in drawing foreign direct investment (FDI). Dubuque, Iowa, which also has a long history of manufacturing, ranks second regionally. It’s known for its strong educational system and skilled work force. Two other Iowa MSAs also place in the Midwest regions top 15 Leading Locations: Iowa City and Waterloo-Cedar Falls.

The rebound in the automotive sector is positively affecting Michigan’s economy. Additionally, in March 2013 Michigan’s right-to-work law went into effect, making it the 24th state in the nation to pass such legislation. The Holland-Grand Haven, Michigan, MSA ranked third among the Midwest’s Leading Locations, with companies like Johnson Controls-Saft, Lean Logistics, LG Chem and other suppliers to the auto and energy industries making millions of dollars in investments in the MSA.

Only one MSA in Illinois made the Midwest’s region’s top MSAs list — Springfield, Illinois. The MSA counts the healthcare industry and truck and rail transportation among its major strengths, citing its central U.S. location. Wisconsin has a strong showing among the region’s Leading Locations, with four MSAs in the top 15: Appleton, Madison, and La Crosse and Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, these last two MSAs include parts of Minnesota as well as Wisconsin. Federal Reserve data for June 2013 suggests that Wisconsin will have the strongest economic growth of any state in the nation over the next six months.

    • City
    • State
    • 2010
    • Overall
    • 1.
    • Columbus
    • IN
    • 76,794
    • 3
    • Columbus, INColumbus is known for its manufacturing expertise and engineering strengths. Fortune 200 diesel-engine–maker Cummins Inc. is headquartered here, employing more than 7,000 workers. The city is also a national leader in foreign direct investment — 21 Japanese companies, including NTN, Enkei, and Toyota Industrial Equipment, employ nearly 5,000 workers. Toyota Material Handling USA recently announced it would relocate its headquarters from California to Columbus. Other global companies with an R&D presence in town include Faurecia (emission control systems) and child safety seat manufacturer Dorel Juvenile Group.

      Local employers draw from a 35-mile commuting population of 1.7 million and an 884,000-person labor force. With 35 percent of local employment tied directly to manufacturing, the one-county MSA is among the top 3 percent of all counties for manufacturing strength and has more mechanical engineers per worker than any other U.S. city.

      Columbus ranked fourth in the nation for its GDP growth in 2010 and fifth highest in 2011 among all U.S. metros, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Columbus has averaged one expansion announcement per month since 2010, resulting in more than 1,800 direct jobs and $170 million in capital investments. Among the newest additions is the Phoenix Group, which has selected Columbus for a $150 million, 468,000-square-foot distribution facility.
    • 2.
    • Dubuque
    • IA
    • 93,653
    • 14
    • Dubuque, IALocated along the Mississippi River at the intersection of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois, Dubuque has a long history of manufacturing. Products include heavy equipment, windows and doors, furniture, plumbing, and metal products. Leading companies are Deere and Company, Eagle Window and Door, A.Y. McDonald Manufacturing Company, and Flexsteel Industries. Other growing employment sectors are education, book publication, healthcare, and financial services. IBM, which provides technology services, employs about 1,300 Dubuque-area residents.

      Manufacturing continues to surge. Last year, Behnke Enterprises announced plans for a $1.5 million expansion that will increase its capacity for manufacturing agricultural and industrial trailers. Camoplast Solideal, a company that manufactures complete track systems for the agricultural industry, will undertake a $3.4 million facility expansion project in nearby Peosta. The Greater Dubuque Development Corporation led the way in coordinating local/statewide support for the expansion, including tax increment financing (TIF) and assistance from the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

      This history of public-private partnership has led to a strong education system and a highly skilled work force. It is also a reason why Dubuque was named one of America's Promise Alliance's "100 Best Communities for Young People" in 2012 — the fifth time it has won this award.
    • 3.
    • Holland-Grand Haven
    • MI
    • 263,801
    • 23
    • Holland-Grand Haven, MIOver the last two years the Lakeshore Region of Michigan has generated $41 million in industrial investment, creating 96 jobs and retaining 2,662 jobs. This region, which is anchored by Holland and Grand Haven, continues to outpace both the Midwest and the nation in sales growth. Over 77 percent of the region reported sales gains, compared to 59 percent for the Midwest and 57 percent for the U.S.

      According to "Michigan's Urban and Metropolitan Strategy" by the Brookings Institution, over 86 percent of regional companies have introduced new products in the past five years, compared to 81 percent for the Midwest and 78 percent for the nation as a whole. The Greater Holland area places second in Michigan for the number of patent applications per capita, nearly twice the national average.

      Holland development projects include Energetyx ($15 million, 500 jobs), Haworth ($10 million, 450 jobs), Johnson Controls-Saft ($220 million, 450 jobs), and Lean Logistics ($3.3 million, 580 jobs). Energetyx uses composite material technology to manufacture windmill blades for wind energy installations. LG Chem, a South Korea-based advanced battery manufacturer, plans to produce its first lithium-ion cells for the automotive industry from its $300 million factory in Holland this year.
    • 4.
    • Springfield
    • IL
    • 210,170
    • 40
    • 5.
    • Ames
    • IA
    • 89,542
    • 43
    • 6.
    • Ann Arbor
    • MI
    • 344791
    • 44
    • 7.
    • Cincinnati-Middletown
    • OH-KY-IN
    • 2,130,151
    • 51
    • 8.
    • La Crosse
    • WI-MN
    • 133,665
    • 52
    • 9.
    • Appleton
    • WI
    • 225,666
    • 53
    • 10.
    • Lafayette
    • IN
    • 201,789
    • 56
    • 11.
    • Sandusky
    • OH
    • 77,079
    • 61
    • 12.
    • Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington
    • MN-WI
    • 3,279,833
    • 62
    • 13.
    • Iowa City
    • IA
    • 152,586
    • 64
    • 14.
    • Waterloo-Cedar Falls
    • IA
    • 167,819
    • 68
    • 15.
    • Madison
    • WI
    • 568,593
    • 75

Leading Locations for 2013 Results

Exclusive Research