Area Development
Leading Locations for 2015 Resources
A key to understanding the results of the Leading Locations report is to first understand the methodology — and how it differs from most published industry ranking reports. Of the 21 data fields examined, only 4 captured actual comparative rankings; the remaining 17 captured the rate of change. With all fields being considered equal (and not weighted), this means that those MSAs with a positive change (lower unemployment as an example) will move to the top half of the listing. Those with negative change will drop to the bottom half, and some MSAs (that perhaps continue to maintain strong attributes) will end up in the middle of the pack.

In essence, the report provides outstanding insight and value in tracking movement across prime metrics. As some published industry lists and rankings provide a “snapshot” of year-end community accomplishments, this report can best be described as a “video” of change over the last three years.

Some of the dynamics that can be observed in the results include the growth of high-tech regions such as Northern California, Austin, and Denver, which are clearly established “industry clusters” enjoying natural expansion primarily in that industry sector. The South and Southwest regions seem to be changing as a result of corporate migration (in the past two decades, the number of Fortune 400 companies based in Texas grew to 50 from 15) and the preferences of the millennial generation. According to the Brookings Institute, “Millennials overwhelmingly prefer western cities such as Houston and Denver.” As a result, the New York City region lost 20,369 millennials from 2010 to 2012.

Any location consultant worth their salt wants to be the first to identify an up-and-coming community not yet identified by peers and corporate clients. The Leading Locations report, and the methodology used to track the changes occurring in regions, is extremely critical to identify these underpursued communities that typically would not be considered due to past impressions.

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.