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Leading Locations for 2013: The Pacific Region MSAs

August 2013
With five of the top-10 MSAs in the Pacific region, the state of California is experiencing an economic comeback. The state has added jobs at the fastest year-over-year pace in more than a decade. And in 2011, California scooped up more than half of the entire nation’s venture-backed invest¬ment — for the fourth consecutive year, according to the National Venture Capital Association.

Needless to say, much of this investment is in information and communications technology. The number-one MSA in the region, as well as among all big cities, is San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara — the heart of the Silicon Valley. The MSA is home to such well-know tech firms as Google, eBay, and Yahoo, and also placed first in the 2012 Milken Best-Performing Cities Index.

Just north of the San Jose MSA is the San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City metro area, which placed third among the Pacific Region’s Leading Locations. And further north, in Sonoma County is Santa Rosa-Petaluma, placing fifth in the region. The county added 7,000 jobs from March 2012 to March 2013, representing the highest year-over-year increase since 2000–2001.

Interestingly, Fairbanks, Alaska, is ranked second among the Leading Locations in the Pacific region. With a high intellectual concentration and sufficient infrastructure for R&D, the city touts its potential to become “a technology center of the north.” It has long been a prime location for numerous automotive and aviation testers looking to qualify their vehicles and component parts in one of the coldest climates in the world, with the winter lasting for six months or longer.

    • City
    • State
    • 2010
    • Overall
    • 1.
    • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara
    • CA
    • 1,836,911
    • 2
    • San Jose, CAKnown as the heart of the Silicon Valley, the San Jose MSA has a rich tradition of high-tech entrepreneurship, innovation, and discovery. About $8 billion in venture capital funding is invested in the region every year, driving R&D and commercialization efforts, especially in the fields of nanotechnology, communications, and information and computer technology (ICT). Major players include Cisco Systems, Samsung, eBay, Google, and Yahoo.

      Top universities in the area — San Jose State University, University of California-Berkeley, and Stanford University — attract some of the best student talent in the country, turning out an impressive number of highly skilled scientists and engineers. As a result of this stellar work force, strong economic growth, and the creation of high-paying jobs, San Jose also placed first in the 2012 Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index.

      Recent announcements include Samsung Semiconductor's expansion of its research and development campus and FICO's plans to relocate from Minneapolis to San Jose to be closer to Silicon Valley's engineering talent pool. "By operating from the Silicon Valley, we can more readily build upon our company's deep talent pool, collaborate with other big thinkers in the world's premier technology hub, and help our customers compete more effectively in the era of big data," says FICO's president and CEO William Lansing.
    • 2.
    • Fairbanks
    • AK
    • 97,581
    • 6
    • 3.
    • San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City (METROPOLITAN DIVISION)
    • CA
    • 1,776,095
    • 21
    • 4.
    • Seattle-Bellevue-Everett (METROPOLITAN DIVISION)
    • WA
    • 2,644,584
    • 24
    • 5.
    • Santa Rosa-Petaluma
    • CA
    • 483,878
    • 30
    • Santa Rosa, CALocated in the heart of wine country, Santa Rosa is the county seat of Sonoma County. About 35 miles to the south is Petaluma. Key industries in Santa Rosa include tourism, healthcare (Kaiser Permanente, St. Joseph Health System), and high technology (Agilent Technologies, Medtronic). About half of Petaluma's 30,000 residents are employed in the services sector, especially finance, insurance, and real estate.

      Petaluma also has several important manufacturing sectors. The food-processing industry employs about 2,600 workers who produce organic or natural food products, wine, and beer. Major employers are Amy's Kitchen, Clover-Stornetta, Petaluma Poultry, Cowgirl Creamery, Straus Dairy, Barbara's Bakery, and Alvarado Street Bakers. There is also a growing information and computer technology cluster, including telecommunications device manufacturers and software developers. Major employers include Cyan Optics and Calix Inc.

      From March 2012 to March 2013 these and other employers in Sonoma County added 7,000 new jobs — the highest year-over-year increase since 2000–2001. The biggest gains were realized in trade, transportation, utilities, hospitality, healthcare, and construction.
    • 6.
    • Bellingham
    • WA
    • 201,140
    • 37
    • Bellingham, WALocated about 90 miles north of Seattle, Bellingham was ranked in 2012 as the 56th "Best Small City in America for Business and Careers" by Forbes magazine. The city continues to invest in itself, including a $106 million plan to redevelop its waterfront. Major industries include healthcare, agribusiness, and manufacturing.

      Top manufacturing firms include Heath Tecna, a global supplier of interior products for the passenger aircraft industry. In March, Qantas Airways installed the company's FAA-certified overhead pivot bin system on some of its Boeing 737s — creating overhead bin space that is easier and safer to access. Also headquartered in Bellingham is Brooks Manufacturing, a leading provider of crossarms and other transmission framing components for the utility industry. Another global company in town is Krause Manufacturing, which designs, fabricates, and installs recycling facilities around the world.

      Several excellent postsecondary educational institutions — Whatcom Community College, Bellingham Technical College, Northwest Indian College, Trinity Western College, and Western Washington University — work with local industries to provide the highly skilled workers that they need.
    • 7.
    • Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta
    • CA
    • 423,895
    • 41
    • 8.
    • Anchorage
    • AK
    • 380,821
    • 64
    • 9.
    • San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles
    • CA
    • 269,637
    • 74
    • 10.
    • Mount Vernon-Anacortes
    • WA
    • 116,901
    • 77
    • 11.
    • Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro
    • OR-WA
    • 2,226,009
    • 78
    • 12.
    • Corvallis
    • OR
    • 85,579
    • 95
    • 13.
    • San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos
    • CA
    • 3,095,313
    • 102
    • 14.
    • Redding
    • CA
    • 177,223
    • 106
    • 15.
    • Honolulu
    • HI
    • 953,207
    • 113

Leading Locations for 2013 Results

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