Providence zooms up on ‘best performing’ ranking

PROVIDENCE jumped 65 spots on this year’s annual “Best Performing Cities” produced by The Milken Institute.
Posted 12/16/11

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Providence jumped 65 spots on this year’s annual “Best Performing Cities” produced by The Milken Institute.

The Providence metropolitan area – which includes New Bedford and Fall River - jumped to 110th from 175th among the U.S.’s 200 large metropolitan areas.

The “Best Performing Cities” is based on economic performance measures, such as job, wage and technology performance over a five-year period, to “capture the structural elements,” the nonpartisan think tank said.

“Determining which communities are recovering at the fastest pace and which weathered the recession best provides a framework for understanding the opportunities and related risks. Only a handful of communities have seen employment rebound to pre-recession peaks; these regions are poised to capture a bigger share of the impending expansion,” it noted.

Texas was by far the “winner” on the best-performing rankings. Metropolitan areas in the Lone Star state took four of the top five spots, with San Antonio at No. 1, followed by: El Paso, No. 2; Fort Collins, Colo., No. 3; Austin-Round Rock, Texas, No. 4; and Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, Texas, in fifth place.

“What’s the secret sauce behind the Lone Star state’s success? Texas benefits from a lower reliance on durable goods manufacturing, low business costs, the ongoing consolidation of military bases, increased trade with Mexico and South America, continued energy exploration and development, and aggressive recruiting of employers from less business-friendly states,” the institute said.

San Antonio was one of “only a handful” of metro areas that exceeded their pre-recession employment peak, fueled by realignment of military bases bringing new jobs and advances of drilling techniques making the Eagle Ford shale formation “more attractive to oil and gas companies.”

Providence was highlighted among the ranking’s “biggest gainers,” many of which experienced a severe housing market collapse that “has now worked its way through the system, allowing economic conditions to stabilize” while others “are witnessing an increase in heavy durable equipment manufacturing output related both to rapid gain in export markets and domestic activity.”

Also on the biggest gainers list were: Merced, Calif.; Worcester, Mass.; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.

Of the nine factors in Providence's score, the best were:

  • Number of highly concentrated high-tech industries, ranking 42nd.

  • One-year job growth, ranking 61st.

  • High-tech GDP location quotient (measure of high-tech concentration), ranking 78th.

The lowest rankings for Providence were:

  • Five-year job growth from 2005 to 2010, ranking 157th.

  • One-year high-tech sector output growth relative to the United States average between 2009 and 2010, ranking 122nd.

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