Thursday, January 31, 2008 - 2:32 PM CST
Austin economy spanks the competition
Austin Business Journal
High-tech, a booming film industry and the University of Texas all helped propel Austin to the top of Forbes' 2008 list of America's Fastest Growing Metros.
The magazine ranked Austin No. 1 among the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas. The list sorted cities by their anticipated gross domestic product growth between 2007 and 2012. Austin's GMP, or the value of goods and services produced in the area, is expected to climb 32 percent over the five-year period.
Forbes credits the local boom to high-tech employers like Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) as well as the University of Texas, which is producing ample engineering talent.
Other cities that ranked high on the list include Atlanta, Seattle, Orlando, Houston and San Jose, Calif. The Forbes article points out that all of those cities share several key characteristics with Austin: They are tech hubs in close proximity to universities with growing population bases.
Forbes used GMP forecasts provided by Moody's Economy.com.
The regions of the country with the fastest growing metro areas overall are the Southeast and West. Forbes credits the lower costs of living and doing business in those areas for their higher anticipated performance.
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America's Fastest-Growing Metros
Brian Wingfield and William Pentland 01.30.08, 2:20 PM ET
It's no secret that the Southeast and Western United States are booming. The costs of living and doing business there are often cheaper there than in big coastal cities. But where and how much those cities are thriving might surprise you.
Take Alabama. The state has some of the fastest growing metro areas in the country, including Mobile, which is projected to have the greatest change in "gross metropolitan product (GMP)," 34% between 2007-2012, according to research forecasts done for us by Moody's Economy.com.
In Pictures: America's Fastest-Growing Large And Small Metros
One boon to Alabama is ThyssenKrupp's announcement last year to build a $3.7 billion steel plant in Mobile. And Huntsville--expected GMP growth 15% by 2012--has long been a hub for defense and space research. Since the mid-1990s, Alabama has also become a manufacturing center for automakers like DaimlerChrysler (nyse: DCX - news - people ), Toyota (nyse: TM - news - people ) and Hyundai.
"The automotive industry has been Alabama's real growth industry in the last 15 years," says Brian Hilson, president and CEO of Huntsville's chamber of commerce.
Other metro areas, like Port St. Lucie and Palm Bay, are part of a growing biotech cluster in central Florida. Straddling Texas and Arkansas, Texarkana is seeing war-related development: Its Red River Army Depot is a major maintenance and storage facility for military equipment. And St. George, Utah, located about 120 miles from Las Vegas, has boomed in recent years as a destination for retirees.
All of them sit at or near the top of Forbes' list of America's fastest-growing metropolitan areas, places large and small that offer at least the promise of booming economies for years to come.
To compile our list, we looked at all of the country's 363 metropolitan areas, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau has a geographic region with a "core urban area" of at least 50,000 people. Because many small metro areas are high growth--and because we wanted to show growth in large cities as well--we split the group into two classes: the largest 100 metro areas (with at least 528,000 people) and everyone else. We use projections run for us by Moody's Economy.com to show growth in GMP between 2007-2012.
Of course, if one looks at economic growth in the country's largest 100 metros, the usual suspects jump to the top of the list. With an estimated 32% GMP growth from 2007-2012, Austin, Texas, is the winner for big metros. Atlanta, Seattle, Orlando, Houston and San Jose, Calif., also appear high on the list. What do they all have in common? They're tech hubs with proximity to universities and a healthy increase in population. Austin's population, for example, is expected to increase by nearly 15% by 2012, according to Moody's Economy.com forecasts