If you had a great business idea and were to go to some top-notch consultant and ask it where you should locate, the firm would crank out the MSA population data, drawing 50-mile circles around all the major cities and towns. Your business would end up smack dab in the middle of everyone else’s, and you’d be bankrupt inside of two years.
As an alternative, you could view the Milken Institute’s “Best-Performing Cities” report. This year’s results have just been released, and once again the eyes of Texas are upon you. The Lone Star state grabbed the top two spots, five of the top ten, and nine of the top twenty. Things sure are big in Texas.
Number one on the list was the Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood region, followed closely by Austin. Milken arrives at its rankings through a rigorous weighting of economic factors (more sophisticated than those consultant’s 50-mile rings), measuring growth in jobs, wages and technology output. With the Great Recession just passed, it was certainly difficult for Milken to find much in the way of positive news.
Within the report detail there were some interesting observations about what helped drive the top rankings:
- Military bases, as defense was pretty much “recession-proof” this time around
- A higher proportion of service versus manufacturing companies
- Within manufacturing, a higher proportion of high tech versus old-school trades
- The ability to avoid a housing market collapse
And if you needed reminding of how volatile some locations are, check out Santa Barbara California, which made #1 on Milken’s “Biggest Decliners” list, dropping 95 spots from 43 in 2009 to 138 this year. Rumor is they might change the town’s name to Hanna Barbera.