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Leading Locations for 2013: The Plains States MSAs

The Plains States of Kansas, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota point to their business-friendly environment while touting their economic success. The Fargo, ND/Moorhead, MN, MSA ranks first among the region’s Leading Locations — and is also second among all mid-size cities. The MSA boasted an unemployment rate of 4.7 when the national average was 8.5 percent!

August 2013
Impressive growth occurred in the manufacturing, back office, and IT sectors last year. Fargo was ranked first by Forbes this year on its list of the top-100 “Best Small Places for Business and Careers.”

Another North Dakota city placed second regionally among the Plains States Leading Locations — Bismarck. The city was ranked fourth on Forbes’ aforementioned list (down from third in 2012).

Placing first on Forbes’ 2013 list was Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which placed third among Plains Region MSAs Leading Locations. The financial services sector has contributed heavily to economic growth in Sioux Falls, with Citibank employing nearly 3,000 out of 16,000 financial services employees in the city.

Additionally, according to an interview with the city’s Mayor Mike Huether, work conducted in Sioux Falls by biotech firms like Sanford and Avera helped to sustain the city during the national recession. Two Nebraska MSAs — Lincoln and Omaha/Council Bluffs (Iowa) — ranked fourth and fifth. The latter sits at the crossroads of interstates 80 and 29, providing global access from the U.S. heartland. Financial services is also a big contributor to economic growth in Omaha. Major announcements include a $200 million data center for Fidelity Investments.

Three Kansas MSAs made the top-10 Plains States Leading Locations: Wichita, Lawrence, and Topeka. The aerospace sector has been a major contributor to economic growth in Wichita. For example, in July, Triumph Aerospace Systems – Wichita announced it would expand in the city, creating 100 new jobs and investing more than $2 million in new machining and facilities renovation during the next five years. And the Lawrence MSA ranked third in 2011 for the percent of its total work force (18–44 years old) with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

    • City
    • State
    • 2010
    • Overall
    • 1.
    • Fargo
    • ND-MN
    • 208,777
    • 7
    • Fargo , NDThe economy is on the move in Fargo, with employment in manufacturing growing by 4 percent, in back office by 5 percent, and in IT by an impressive 8.6 percent from 2011 to 2012. The unemployment rate for the Fargo-Moorhead MSA is about 4.7 percent, almost half the national unemployment rate of 8.5 percent during the recession.

      Major employers in town are Microsoft, Hitachi, John Deere, and Tech Mahindra, which set up operations last year. John Deere continues its expansion efforts with a new, $20 million, 90,000-square-foot facility that opened in 2012. Horsch Anderson, a South Dakota company that manufactures agricultural equipment, will build an 110,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Fargo, investing about $12.5 million and creating 80 jobs. With a combined enrollment of about 30,000 students, the three higher-education institutions in the area — North Dakota State University, Minnesota State University-Moorehead, and Concordia College — work with the private sector to create specific training programs for students who are interested in working in these industries.

      The recent addition of an American Airlines flight between Fargo and Dallas/Fort Worth has created better access to both national and international destinations, which improves Fargo's competitiveness as a place to do business. Direct flight options from Fargo include Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Orlando-Sanford, Phoenix-Mesa, and Salt Lake City.
    • 2.
    • Bismarck
    • ND
    • 108,779
    • 11
    • Bismarck, ND According to a recent "Enterprising States" report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, North Dakota placed first for economic performance based on exports, business climate, talent pipeline, infrastructure, innovation, and high-tech job growth. A big contributor to these positive numbers was the capital city of Bismarck.

      Forbes magazine placed Bismarck third on its list of the top-100 "Best Small Places for Business and Careers" in 2012. The city scored especially well for education and job growth. Academic institutions like Bismarck State College work with businesses to develop a local work force that meets their employment needs.

      The state government is Bismarck's largest employer, with more than 4,300 workers, followed by healthcare and education. Other industries include coal, natural gas, food and food products, and heavy equipment. In May 2013 Bobcat Company broke ground on its new $20 million Acceleration Center, which will be a high-tech facility for designing and testing new products. About 140 new jobs will be created, including research and development teams, prototype and design engineers, and manufacturing technicians.
    • 3.
    • Sioux Falls
    • SD
    • 228,261
    • 46
    • 4.
    • Lincoln
    • NE
    • 302,157
    • 47
    • 5.
    • Omaha-Council Bluffs
    • NE-IA
    • 865,350
    • 58
    • 6.
    • Rapid City
    • SD
    • 126,382
    • 135
    • 7.
    • Wichita
    • KS
    • 623,061
    • 137
    • 8.
    • Grand Forks
    • ND-MN
    • 98,461
    • 153
    • 9.
    • Lawrence
    • KS
    • 110,826
    • 197
    • 10.
    • Topeka
    • KS
    • 233,870
    • 242
    • 11.
    • Manhattan
    • KS
    • 127,081
    • NA

Leading Locations for 2013 Results

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