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Editor’s Note: Economic Growth Off to Slow Start

Q2 2015
According to economists, harsh winter weather, a drop in oil prices, West Coast port disputes, and a stronger dollar coupled with slow growth overseas are all responsible for the sluggish growth of the U.S. economy. In late April, the Commerce Department reported that GDP — the value of goods and services produced in the United States — only expanded at a seasonally adjusted rate of 0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2015, much less than the 1 percent rate economists had been expecting.

Nonetheless, PricewaterhouseCoopers Q1 2015 Manufacturing Barometer reveals optimism among U.S. industrial manufacturers regarding the U.S. economy. In fact, the level of optimism — 76 percent — is the highest since the fourth quarter of 2005. “As we see increasingly positive views about the domestic economy among U.S. industrial manufacturers, a majority of management teams continue to indicate plans to hire skilled workers and invest in their businesses,” said Bobby Bono, PwC’s U.S. industrial manufacturing leader.

Where will this investment take place? Although the economic development process has changed since Area Development was first published 50 years ago, one fact remains: “CEOs favor states that foster growth through progressive business development programs, low taxes, and a quality living environment,” according to the latest Chief Executive magazine Best & Worst States for Business survey. Among these states are many that are also receiving Gold and Silver Shovel awards from Area Development this year in recognition of garnering investment and high-value added jobs in 2014. One state in each of five population categories was recognized with a Gold Shovel award, and Silver Shovels went to 16 runner-up states. One project in each of the population categories was also recognized as a “project of the year.”

Also in this issue is our annual Leading Locations report. Area Development’s research desk ranked 373 MSAs against 21 economic and workforce indicators to determine the 100 Leading Locations, as well as the leading MSAs among big, mid-size, and small cities, and within nine geographic regions of the U.S. These cities/MSAs understand how business works and are nurturing sustainable economic development.

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