Area Development
Leading Locations for 2015 Resources
A look at the top 20 or so markets in the 2015 “Leading Locations” reveals the dominance of two significant sectors, technology and energy, in propelling a number of top-ranked communities to economic success. And, as in last year’s report, some locations have found success with one or two other distinct industries that continue to thrive.

Manufacturing industries are driving economic growth in a number of Leading Locations.

Elkhart, Ind., for example, continues to be the U.S.’s recreational vehicle and musical instrument manufacturing capital. Grand Rapids, Mich., third in the “Overall” ranking, has rebounded from the global financial recession on the strength of furniture, plastics, auto parts, and other types of manufacturing. Nine of the top 15 locations in the “Overall” ranking have dominant, thriving technology sectors, illustrating that the technology industry is not just in Silicon Valley these days. Austin has moved up the “Overall” rankings from 15 to 10, while Boulder moved up from 30 to 9.

Not surprisingly, five of the top 20 “Overall” top locations have energy-driven economies. All bets are off as to whether energy prices will remain low and undercut their economic growth.

White-collar industries also provide a path to success. The professional services sector has driven the growth of top-20 “Economic Strength” contender Charlotte, N.C., for instance, while tourism drives Orlando, Fla. Dallas, Denver, and Salt Lake City — all in the top-15 “Overall” locations — are good examples of healthy, diversified economies with corporate appeal.

Area Development’s research desk compiled the statistics for this report. Locations were ranked according to the methodology explained herein. Location profiles/articles researched and written by Mark Crawford, Staff Editor.