The Milken Institute, an independent economic thank-tank based out of Southern California listed both Provo-Orem and Salt Lake City in their top five best performing large cities for economic growth and stability in a recent report.
Provo-Orem was ranked the second best city in the nation behind Austin, Texas for its number one ranking in job growth in the past year, and solid job growth over the past five years. The Provo-Orem area has risen five spots in the Milken Report over the past five years due to the growing tech sector in Utah County – a big contributor to growth in the area. The report also credits Brigham Young University for its support of the tech industry.
The Milken report does note that decreased demand for personal computers may have an impact on microchip production, a major source of high-end tech companies in the valley. Though an important factor, the report notes that the area is one of the few communities across the nation that have access to Google Fiber, expansions at Utah Valley University, explosive growth, and double digit employment gains in the past few months.
Salt Lake City ranked fifth in the report, gaining a spot from the previous year. The Milken Institute stated that, though the capitol city is a consistently high performer, specific targeting of high profile, high value companies such as Goldman Sachs pushed the city into the top five.
The report also praised the Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative originating out of the University of Utah as a key factor in attracting technology based companies to the state and valley. This, combined with the area’s diverse overall economic base places Salt Lake in a safer position when it comes to economic fluctuations.
The report did raise concerns that federal spending cuts may hurt Salt Lake in the future, as many companies in the metro area depend on contracts from the feds.
The Ogden-Clearfield metro area jumped 24 slots to come in at number 50 for best large cities for economic development and growth while the Logan micropolitan area dropped from first to 17th in small city rankings in the report from 2012 to 2013, due to low scores in 2012 jobs, wages, and short term growth. St. George rose a dramatic 47 slots to number 62 in the nation for smaller city economic development.