What critical factors determine which U.S. metros are thriving or merely surviving? Which places possess the traits that will lead to success? Our annual Best-Performing Cities report provides a fact-based, comprehensive metric system across metropolitan areas that highlights the job, wage, and technology trends that shape current and future prospects.
Technology and energy were the forces powering this year’s top performers, even more so than in 2012. Of course, tech firms didn’t just fall from the sky; the leading tech metros cultivated these assets through indigenous innovation and strategic recruitment. Some were successful despite being high-cost, high- regulation locations. For example, San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA; San Jose-Sunnyvale- Santa Clara, CA; and Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, MA, have developed critical masses of R&D assets and infrastructure that make it easier to innovate in those metros than in many lower-cost locations. The friction costs of innovation are minimized. Other tech centers are capturing more of their locally generated innovation and filling in the missing ingredients as needed. Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX, Raleigh-Cary, NC, and Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO, fall into this category. …
…Among this year’s key findings:
» Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX, reclaimed the top spot as our 2013 Best-Performing Large City. Austin’s technology base is highly diversified and has been performing admirably.
» The Lone Star State, which has both technology and energy assets, claimed three of the Top 10 and seven of the Top 25 large cities.
» Colorado and California are each home to four of the Top 25 large cities.
» Technology hubs dominated with 13 of them in the Top 25, and technology growth helped propel several other metros into the top ranks.
» The shale oil and gas boom thrust nine other metros into the Top 25.
» Columbia, MO, was the Best-Performing Small City with the help of high-tech industries like telecommunications, which saw employment grow by 60 percent from 2007 to 2012.
» Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV, recorded the biggest gain among the large cities, vaulting 100 spots. …