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Leading Locations for 2013: The Mountain Region MSAs

A mixture of modern and emerging sectors — including aerospace, biotech, information technology, and financial services — has driven the economies of the Mountain States’ (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming).

July 2013
Ranking first among the region’s MSAs for the second year in a row is Casper, Wyoming, whose economy continued to grow over the last 10 years despite the national downturn. In fact, its personal income was 17th among 366 MSAs ranked by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The Denver-Aurora-Broomfield MSA — home to Lockheed Martin and telecom giants like DISH Network and Comcast — ranked second regionally. And another Colorado city, Fort Collins-Loveland, is #3 among the Mountain MSAs. It’s home to Colorado State University and many high-tech firms, including Hewlett Packard and Intel.

High technology may also be responsible for putting two other Utah cities on the Mountain Region’s top-10 list: Salt Lake City and Provo-Orem, an area known as “Silicon Slopes.” The University of Utah, located in Salt Lake County, has a long list of spin-off companies that have led the high-tech growth in the state. And Provo has become just the third city in the nation to be connected with Google’s ultra-fast Internet access. A third Utah MSA, Ogden-Clearfield, which serves as an economic hub for the northern part of the state, also made the Mountain Region’s top-10 list.

    • City
    • State
    • 2010
    • Overall
    • 1.
    • Casper
    • WY
    • 75,450
    • 8
    • 2.
    • Denver-Aurora-Broomfield
    • CO
    • 2,543,482
    • 19
    • 3.
    • Fort Collins-Loveland
    • CO
    • 299,630
    • 20
    • 4.
    • Cheyenne
    • WY
    • 91,738
    • 26
    • Cheyenne, WYCheyenne, Wyoming's capital city, anchors the north end of the Front Range Urban Corridor. Key economic forces for the city are the nearby F.E. Warren Air Force and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific railroads. The larger Cheyenne MSA has a population of about 130,000 people. A well-developed education system, including skills-specific training programs at Laramie County Community College, the University of Wyoming, and Colorado State University, provides a well-trained workforce for local businesses. Leading employers are Sierra Trading Post (600 employees) and Lowe's Companies (500).

      Key industries in Cheyenne are defense, energy, transportation, warehousing and distribution, and manufacturing. Two business parks — Cheyenne Business Parkway and North Range Business Park — provide state-of-the-art facilities for both start-up and established businesses. Manufacturing continues to grow — for example, in January 2013, California-based Searing Industries announced it would locate a new 200,000-square-foot-manufacturing facility in Cheyenne to produce welded steel tubing.

      A pro-business environment, low taxes, and solid work force are some of the reasons Cheyenne ranked 60th in the 2012 "Top-100 Best Small Cities for Business and Careers" survey by Forbes.
    • 5.
    • Boulder
    • CO
    • 294,567
    • 38
    • Boulder, COBoulder has a lot going for it — not only does it nestle up to the Rocky Mountains, it scores well for quality of life, robust education, and economic diversity. Key industries include information and communications technology, aerospace, biotechnology, data storage, energy, photonics, and advanced manufacturing. Major companies are Cisco, GE, Google, Lockheed Martin, Merck, IBM, Northrop Grumman, and Ball Aerospace — which just completed a 90,000-square-foot, $75 million expansion that doubles its capacity to design, test, and ship satellites and other equipment.

      High-tech companies are attracted to Boulder because of the well-educated work force (University of Colorado-Boulder and Naropa University) and the abundance of high-level research institutes. These include the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, National Center for Atmospheric Research, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Earth System Research Laboratory.

      The combination of world-class research, innovative private-sector companies, public-private partnerships, and successful commercialization of new discoveries has fostered a culture of innovation that attracts venture capital investment. According to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers/Venture Economics, over the last five years nearly $1 billion has been invested in the Boulder area by VC firms.
    • 6.
    • Salt Lake City
    • UT
    • 1,124,197
    • 39
    • 7.
    • Provo-Orem
    • UT
    • 526,810
    • 42
    • 8.
    • Boise City-Nampa
    • ID
    • 616,561
    • 60
    • 9.
    • Ogden-Clearfield
    • UT
    • 547,184
    • 70
    • 10.
    • Lewiston
    • ID-WA
    • 60,888
    • 71
    • 11.
    • Pocatello
    • ID
    • 90,656
    • 82
    • 12.
    • Logan
    • UT-ID
    • 125,442
    • 104
    • 13.
    • Billings
    • MT
    • 158,050
    • 124
    • 14.
    • Idaho Falls
    • ID
    • 130,374
    • 161
    • 15.
    • Missoula
    • MT
    • 109,299
    • 163

Leading Locations for 2013 Results

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