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100 Leading Locations: Southwest Metro Areas

These Southwest metro areas performed the best on Area Development's 100 Leading Locations list. As business populations shift and site selection continuously evolves, smaller regional and metro areas emerge from amongst the field of usual big-city suspects as desirable locations for companies of all sizes. Our list brings these locations to light by showing how they stack up to the rest of the field when considering 14 highly regarded surveys.

Spring 2011

Austin, Texas (1/19)

As the capital of the Lone Star State - itself well known for its business-friendly policies - Austin stands out. For companies large and small, the metro area has been a sound choice for expansions and relocations. And its businesses consistently push boundaries, creating high-tech and cutting-edge innovations that in turn spur even more investment.

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Next: Dallas, Texas

Dallas, Texas (2/19)

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Next: San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio, Texas (3/19)

Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Oklahoma City, and San Antonio all received six mentions. San Antonio, the seventh- largest U.S. city, is noted for offering big metro advantages at relatively low cost.
"All those savings in this day and time are very important in corporate America," says Mario Hernandez, president of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation. Businesses choose San Antonio not only for the savings, but also for its top-quality power through municipallyowned CPS Energy, and its young, one-million-strong work force.
Over the past two years, San Antonio attracted nearly 9,000 jobs during one of the worst global financial crises. "For us to be adding these kinds of job-producing investments in a recession says a lot for the stability and potential for growth here," Hernandez says.
In 2010, Petco announced it would move its company's financial operations to San Antonio, along with 600 jobs paying an average annual salary of $57,000. There are also the metro's growing healthcare, bioscience and biotech, IT, and aerospace sectors. Its cyber security niche attracted the 24th Air Force, a new U.S. Air Force division focused on cyber command security. Looking ahead, San Antonio seeks to grow its green jobs and renewable energy, cyber security, bioscience, and aerospace industries.

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Next: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (4/19)

Oklahoma City distinguished itself for its financial and employment strength both during and after the recession. Over the past two years, its average unemployment rate was one of the lowest in the nation at 6.1 percent, at least three percentage points below the national average. The municipality has very little debt and has retained a Triple A bond rating, the highest rating available. While the city wasn't immune to the recession's effects, it continued to perform well during tough times. Transportation options, access to market, and growth in industries such as aerospace and bioscience, have attracted expansions.
In 2010, Boeing said it would relocate 550 jobs to Oklahoma City, and energy company Continental Resources announced a headquarters relocation to the metro. The local government's financial stability is also an important signal to businesses.
"It makes it a lot easier for companies to be successful when you're in that kind of environment," says Robin Roberts Krieger, executive vice president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. That fiscal soundness helped the chamber bring 90 projects and more than 4,100 jobs to Oklahoma City last year, at an investment value of at least $345 million.

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Next: Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas

Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas (5/19)

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Next: El Paso, Texas

El Paso, Texas (6/19)

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Next: McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas

McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas (7/19)

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Next: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico (8/19)

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Next: College Station-Bryan, Texas

College Station-Bryan, Texas (9/19)

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Next: Corpus Christi, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas (10/19)

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Next: Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas

Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (11/19)

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Next: Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, Texas

Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, Texas (12/19)

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Next: Las Cruces, New Mexico

Las Cruces, New Mexico (13/19)

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Next: Lawton, Oklahoma

Lawton, Oklahoma (14/19)

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Next: Amarillo, Texas

Amarillo, Texas (15/19)

Significant investment & job creation projects:
• Bell Helicopter Textron, Military aircraft assembly, $31M, 459 jobs

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Next: Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas

Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas (16/19)

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Next: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa, Oklahoma (17/19)

The Tulsa Metro Chamber's economic development division is the primary regional contact for the seven-county Tulsa metro area located in the northeast portion of Oklahoma. Tulsa balances convenience, affordability, and a great quality of life with a talented work force, a central U.S. location, and a probusiness atmosphere.

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Next: Clovis, New Mexico

Clovis, New Mexico (18/19)

Significant investment & job creation projects:
• Tres-Amigas Superstation, Electrical grid interconnect, $300M, 60 jobs

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