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The Leading Mountain States Metros for Economic and Workforce Growth

Area Development ranks the Top MSAs in the Mountain states for economic and workforce growth based on the overall results from our Leading Locations for 2012 study.

August 2012
Top 7 Mountain Cities

    • City/MSA
    • State
    • Population
    • Overall
    • 1.
    • Casper
    • WY
    • 75,450
    • 8
    • Casper, WYCasper's not a big community, but it's high on the list of GDP growth per capita as well as relative employment growth in the past year. And unlike some communities where recent big employment gains have happened in part because they were preceded by big losses, Casper's employment situation has been fairly steady throughout the past few turbulent years, with a jobless rate always well below the national average.

      The area has had a long history in oil ever since the discovery of crude there in the late 1800s, and its strength in energy has been bolstered by its nearby coal and uranium fields. Still, its economic base is diverse, with solid contributions from health care, financial services, manufacturing and government, too, along with the usual local service industries.
    • 2.
    • Salt Lake City
    • UT
    • 1,124,197
    • 26
    • Salt Lake City, UTThe workforce in Salt Lake City is among the most well-educated in the country, and among the most well-employed. The jobless rate was significantly below average before the recent recession, during the downturn and since. Those employees are working in a wide range of businesses, from aerospace to energy, IT and data centers to manufacturing, advanced composites to life sciences. The biggest private employers include holding company FJ Management Inc., Management & Training Corp. in the correctional facilities industry, and refrigerated trucker C.R. England Inc. On the public company side, Huntsman Corp. leads the way in synthetics, followed by auto parts supplier Autoliv ASP and ATK Aerospace Systems. The area's smart workforce is highly supportive of everything from startups to high-tech computer companies to medical research facilities.

      Named after the Great Salt Lake and situated in the shadow of spectacular mountains, the metro area boasts strong quality of life advantages that land it on numerous rankings. Two Utah cities make Relocate America's "top places to live," and four are on CNN Money's top 100. CQ Press says Utah is the second-most-livable state, and the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index says the state is one of the nation's happiest. They're happy in part because they're healthy-the area is ranked among America's healthiest. They're also happy about ongoing employment growth and a steady stream of positive headlines, such as computer maker Xi3's expansion plans that could add 500 jobs, ( , L-3 Communications' desire to hire up to 500 ( and carbon-fiber maker Hexcel Corp.'s plans to hire as many as 600 over the next decade. (
    • 3.
    • Cheyenne
    • WY
    • 91,738
    • 27
    • 4.
    • Denver-Aurora-Broomfield
    • CO
    • 2,543,482
    • 36
    • Denver, COIts diverse economy and a prime location for serving a wide swath of states have helped the Denver metropolitan area weather the recent downturn relatively well and thrive today. Denver has the second-largest concentration of aerospace employment, strong investment in IT, a growing clean-tech sector, lots of activity in health care and biosciences, and plenty of jobs in telecom. The jobless rate remains a bit higher than it was five years ago but overall employment is ahead of the total from 2007. Forbes has ranked Colorado as tops in labor prospects and sixth in growth prospects, while CNBC has named it the fifth-best place to do business.

      Among private, non-health-care employers, Lockheed Martin is the biggest, with about 7,000 employees. More than 18,000 people work in telecommunications, including at the DISH Network headquarters and at the massive local Comcast, CenturyLink and Level 3 Communications operations. More than 4,000 are on the IBM payroll, thousands more at the Frontier Airlines headquarters, 3,000-plus at the Ball Corp. headquarters and local operations, nearly that many on the Oracle payroll, and about 2,700 in the MillerCoors beer business. One indicator of the level of local innovation is the decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to expand its Denver operation. (
    • 5.
    • Ogden-Clearfield
    • UT
    • 547,184
    • 57
    • 6.
    • Logan
    • UT-ID
    • 125,442
    • 65
    • 7.
    • Boulder
    • CO
    • 294,567
    • 71

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