Acadiana Business

Lafayette tops another best mid-size cities list

by Leslie Turk

Area Development magazine ranks Lafayette at the top of its list of best mid-sized cities and third among metros of all size across the country.

Area Development magazine ranks Lafayette at the top of its list of best mid-sized cities and best Southern cities for economic and job growth. Overall, Lafayette ranked third among the 365 metropolitan statistical areas surveyed in the 100 Leading Locations list.

The rankings are based on data for 23 indicators from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the U.S. Census American Community Survey. The magazine also calculated rankings for three specific categories: economic strength, prime workforce and recession-busting cities.

Lafayette topped the mid-sized city list and the overall list for economic strength, which looked at workforce and labor factors including per capita real GDP, goods-producing employment, and employment growth. Lafayette ranked third for recession-busting mid-sized cities (13th overall) and ranked in the top 25 for prime workforce in mid-sized cities.

"Lafayette has seen significant economic growth in recent years and this recognition from Area Development reflects that," LEDA President and CEO Gregg Gothreaux said in a press release announcing the rankings. "Local economic indicators have rebounded and, in many cases, exceeded pre-recession levels. With growing retail sales numbers, shrinking unemployment and a growing workforce, all signs point to the fact that over the next decade Lafayette will continue to be one of the premier cities in the South and other communities will strive to emulate our successes."

The magazine, which covers corporate site selection and relocation, noted many of Lafayette's recent accolades including Forbes' best cities for jobs ranking, Sentier Research's fastest income growth ranking, and the local unemployment rate, which was the lowest in state at 4.9 percent in May. Here's what the editors wrote:

No. 1 among the Top 20 Southern Cities and 3rd overall among Area Development's 100 Leading Locations was Lafayette, Louisiana. It topped the "Economic Strength" indicators among the Top-25 Mid-Size Cities, and was 3rd among this same group for its "Recession-Busting" factors.

It's home to the University of Louisiana- Lafayette, plus numerous significant players in oil and gas. Lafayette Parish has seen $1.3 billion in business investments since 2005, and 2011 was its best year ever, with more than $330 million invested and 2,700 jobs created. Among the many headlines, Halliburton last year picked Lafayette for a 150 job, $65 million plant to produce components for oilfield service operations.

The remaining top 10 mid-sized cities are: Fargo, N.D.; Columbia, Mo.; Trenton, N.J.; Longview, Tyler and Laredo, Texas; Holland and Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Waterloo, Iowa.

The remaining top 10 overall cities are: Columbus, Ind.; Odessa and Midland, Tesas; Bismark and Fargo, N.D.; San Jose, Calif.; Casper, Wyo.; Morgantown, W.V.; and Columbia, Mo.

Click here for the full report.