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Leading Locations for 2014 Commentary: One Industry, or Many, Can Lead to Economic Success

Q2 2014
Leading Locations for 2014 Resources
As revealed in the overall “Leading Locations” rankings, there is more than one way to become an attractive location. Some locations have risen on the strength of a dominant industry sector. Others have prevailed by offering low-cost real estate, talent, and other resources in a balanced, diversified economy.

Illustrating the first route — a dominant industry — half of the top 10 overall leading locations underscore the economic power of the U.S. oil and gas boom. Five of the top 10 cities in the overall rankings — Midland and Odessa in Texas, and Fargo, Bismarck, and Grand Forks in North Dakota — are experiencing rapid economic growth from the energy sector. North Dakota is notable as one of the least-populated states in the overall rankings to place three of its cities in the top 10.

Information technology is a major economic driver for four of the remaining five cities in the top 10. Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and Provo-Orem are all widely recognized for their technology sectors. Austin, ranked 15th, also has a strong technology sector, although it has a degree of economic diversification, as seen in growth associated with the professional services, financial services, and higher education sectors.

Denver, placed eighth in the overall rankings, is succeeding with a well-balanced economy benefiting from not only energy and information technology, but also financial services, manufacturing, and other industries.

Having learned from the boom-and-bust cycles of the past, some former single-sector cities have actively sought to diversify. One noteworthy example is Pittsburgh, which leapt from an overall rank of 110 last year to a rank of 41 this year. After suffering years of economic losses with the decline of the domestic steel industry, Pittsburgh is experiencing new dynamism as such companies as Computer Sciences Corporation and Google expand their operations.

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