Charleston Makes Top 10 ‘Best Performing Cities’

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Charleston landed in the top 10 of an annual ranking of cities that are best positioned for future economic growth reports the South Carolina Economic Development Association.  The Milken Institute’s index of Best-Performing Cities places Charleston at No. 9 among the nation’s 200 largest metro areas. Charleston was 11th last year. The index ranks cities based on a number of data points, including wage and job growth, gross domestic product and high-tech GDP. The San Jose, Calif., area moved up 51 spaces from 2011 to earn the No. 1 spot.

Rankings of other large South Carolina metros:

35. Charlotte (includes Rock Hill area)

52. Greenville

88. Augusta, Ga (includes North Augusta area)

108. Spartanburg

129. Columbia

165. Myrtle Beach

Charlotte and Charleston were among the biggest gainers, with Charlotte having moved up 79 places from 2011 and Spartanburg climbing 73 spots. Five of the bottom nine cities were in Florida, including Tallahassee at 192 and Lakeland at 200. The index conducted a separate ranking of the 179 smallest metros. Logan, Utah, was No. 1 in that ranking, with South Carolina communities ranked as follows:

127. Anderson

129. Florence

131. Sumter

The report makes particular note that some cities have fully recovered from job losses spawned by the Great Recession and are best positioned to take advantage of a coming economic expansion. “Identifying the regions that weathered the downturn best and are recovering fastest reveals a range of ideas and strategies for seizing opportunity and keeping risk at bay,” reads the report. “One clear takeaway is that communities and industries that embrace technological know-how can claim an enviable advantage.”

As such, metros known for tech savvy held 12 of the top 25 positions in the rankings. In addition to the San Jose metro (which covers much of Silicon Valley), communities such as Austin, Texas, and the Research Triangle region in North Carolina did well.

The Milken Institute describes itself as “a nonprofit, nonpartisan economic think tank.” It believes the annual index, along with its benchmarking data, can help economic developers analyze their community’s performance relative to other cities and identify ways to improve. Read More.