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Fiddlestix

2005 Best Performing Cities Index

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http://bestcities.milkeninstitute.org/

The 2005 Milken Best Performing Cities Index, announced just ahead of its annual global conference in LA that starts in one week, is intended to measure the job market. They evaluate entire MSAs, not cities, so it's not just Greenville. Or, if you prefer, you can blame the other places for being dead weight that Greenville just can't carry.

Out of the top 200 MSAs, ours is ranked 174th on the index.

What do you make of these indices -- the ones that compare MSAs or cities generally? Do these rankings mean much? Does it depend on what's being compared? Or how well your favorite places do? Or how the rankings match up with your gut feelings?

Does this particular ranking hurt...? Well, of course it hurts, but is it any worse than a scratch or a bruised ego?

The GADC web site boasts that "Expansion Management Magazine" ranked the GSA MSA "fifth out of America's 50 hottest cities in the nation for European business expansion and 11th out of America's 50 hottest cities in the nation for site selection."

Less than a month ago, a KPMG study ranked Greenville-Spartanburg tops among the 13 markets with a population from 500,000 - 1,500,000 in terms of lowest cost of doing business. But two years ago, Inc. Magazine ranked us 65 (out of the top 67 MSAs) in terms of being a "Top US City For Doing Business" (whatever that's supposed to mean....).

I think these surveys and rankings -- even the KPMG study which sounds fairly objective and straightforward at first blush -- are largely driven by very personal or subjective weights and biased by emphasized and de-emphasized factors. They're not totally useless, but they're crappy when it comes to accurate comparisons and getting a good idea of a place.

Take the following survey -- for example -- http://www.bestplaces.net/fybp/quiz.aspx

Try it out, apply your preferred criteria to the poll and give your preferred weights to the various criteria and see which places come out on top and how many have Greenville right up there....

Can anyone coax Greenville to the top of this survey? (I haven't taken it myself, so maybe it's easy to do...)

[EDIT: Greenville came up 95th on my first effort, identifying my honest-to-goodness top criteria; San Francisco, Boston, Long Island, Washington, DC and LA were my top 5 -- of which I can say only San Francisco and Washington, DC would be in the top 25 of a list I had to draw up on my own.]

[EDIT2: I was able to get Greenville into my top 5 -- by limiting results to the Southeast and focusing on climate and culture. Yes, culture! The top 4 (in order) ahead of GSA: Knoxville, Charleston, Johnson City/Kingsport/Bristol, Richmond. We beat West Palm Beach/Boca Raton!]

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I was hoping it would be higher than 174th. The other survey's are good though. Remember, there is no city that is perfect at everything.

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Greenville was actually separated from the rest of the MSA and ranked 178th in the 2005 Milken Survey. Spartanburg is down there at 188th. In 2004, Greenville was lumped together with Spartanburg and Anderson and all were ranked 174th.

Keep in mind what this survey attempts to measure though:

  • Five-Year Job Growth: Metropolitan area job growth relative to the United States average between 1999 and 2004. U.S. average = 100.0

  • One-Year Job Growth: Metropolitan area job growth relative to the United States average between 2003 and 2004. U.S. average = 100.0

  • Five-Year Wages & Salaries Growth: Salary and Wage disbusements growth relative to the United States average between 1998 and 2003. U.S. average = 100.0

  • One-Year Wages & Salaries Growth: Salary and Wage disbusements growth relative to the United States average between 2002 and 2003. U.S. average = 100.0

  • Short Term Job Growth: Job Growth/decline between July 2004 and July 2005. U.S. average = 100.0

  • Five-Year Relative High Tech GDP Growth: High tech sector output growth relative to the United States average between 1999 and 2004. U.S. average = 100.0

  • One-Year Relative High Tech GDP Growth: High tech sector output growth relative to the United States average between 2003 and 2004. U.S. average = 100.0

  • 2004 High Tech GDP Location Quotient: Combined Metropolitan area high tech location quotient during 2004. Location Quotient (LQ) is a measure of high tech concentration (U.S. = 1.0). A metro with an LQ higher than 1.0 is said to be more concentrated than the United States and vice versa.

  • Number of Highly Concentrated High Tech Industries: Measures the number of high technology industries with a location quotient (LQ) about the U.S. average of 1.0 during 2004.

Taking these indicies into consideration, the ranking doesn't surprise me.

While the future does look to hold some promise with regards to attracting high tech industries and jobs that pay well, there are not as many to speak of here as there are elsewhere, quite possibly because the work force hasn't been prepared (educated/trained) as well for high tech jobs here as it has been elsewhere.

Overall, there have been probably as many jobs lost in the the past year and five years as there have been gained and the ones that have been gained haven't been the highest paying (neither were most of the jobs that were lost) and I believe this survey fairly accurately reflects this.

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And that means the future should be even brighter for Greenville, if the very recent announcements are any indicator. The "new" trend in jobs and education here is toward higher technology, rather than the previous rut of age-old textile manufacturing. :shades:

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I would caution you from putting a lot of faith in any assessment from Expansion Management or Site Selection magazine(s). These are magazines funded primarily from Economic Development Organizations advertising for the next metalworking plant or call center to locate in their community. The magazine compiles quite a few lists of 'best cities" in order to get those cities/counties/regions to advertise with them.

As per the other rankings, the underlying data says that the Upstate has fewer jobs now than we did in 1999. Most of the job losses have occured in the manufacturing sector, primarily textiles, apparel, and electronics. And as you may know, every traded sector job loss (or gain) results in another 1.3 to 1.7 job loss or gain. While we have replaced many of these job losses with better jobs, our per capita income growth trails our neighboring states and the nation as a whole.

Our low cost of doing business (KPMG) has led the area to a decades-long and highly succesful recruitment strategy. which has brought some very well-respected companies to our area: 3M, Caterpillar, Kyocera Mita, Bosch, Ford Motor Credit. These recruitment efforts should continue, but evolve to recruiting on the high value of locating in Greenville as opposed to the low cost.

However, recent trips to Austin, TX and Orlando, Fl and the Market Street Services study (joint study by City, County, Chamber) have confirmed that Greenville cannot recruit our way to prosperity, particularly by marketing ourselves as a low-cost option. The best way for an area to create wealth is to grow and retain our own companies. Companies like ScanSource, Hartness International, Datastream, Resurgent Capital, Global Performance, Zipit Technologies, Yardiac.com, TiBa Solutions, Span America Medical, Stevens Aviation, South Financial and ISO Poly Films. These are creating new and innovative products and the profits are being retained in the Upstate.

Again, our recruitment strategy has always been and will remain vital to our economic growth. Specifically, these recruited multinational companies bring talented individuals to the area that may not have otherwise found Greenville. However, Greenville needs to get just as excited at $5 million in venture capital raised by a company like Innegrity, Solutience, Action Research Corp., HS Pharma, Customer Effective, eBridge, Research Technologies, Color Resources International or Vigilix as we currently get when 100 warehouse or call center jobs are announced.

I am also very encouraged to see people like Gene Berger of Horizon Records (and Addy who posted on this board recently) talk of organizing a chapter of the National Federation for Independent Buisinesses (NFIB). A recent study by the NFIB showed that in Austin TX roughly 70 cents per dollar spent on a locally-owned retail store was retained in the community while only 30-40 cents was retained when spent at a chain store. In addition to keeping Greenville unique, shopping at Horizon, Open Book, Spinx Gas Stations, the Blockhouse, Jeff Lynch, SunRift, the Great Escape, etc. helps our local economy. (national retail chains may add a level of prestige to our area, but they drain dollars out of the area).

Sorry to preach (and ramble) to the choir, but if we all worked on Buying Locally, Selling Globally; Greenville could be an even greater place to live, work, learn and play.

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I would caution you from putting a lot of faith in any assessment from Expansion Management or Site Selection magazine(s). These are magazines funded primarily from Economic Development Organizations advertising for the next metalworking plant or call center to locate in their community. The magazine compiles quite a few lists of 'best cities" in order to get those cities/counties/regions to advertise with them.

It seems as though historically, Expansion Management has been somewhat on the mark in their rankings. For the past two years, Nashville and Charlotte have ranked highly on their lists, and both are very vibrant areas, economically speaking. Nissan's decision to locate its headquarters in the Nashville area seems to be indicative of that.

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Sorry to preach (and ramble) to the choir, but if we all worked on Buying Locally, Selling Globally; Greenville could be an even greater place to live, work, learn and play.

Excellent post, EdPro! Thank you for the well-guided thoughts and inspiration. It helped me regain focus on what is more important to our local economy, which is far better than my overall concern for state, regional, and national welfare. :shades:

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Excellent post, EdPro! Thank you for the well-guided thoughts and inspiration. It helped me regain focus on what is more important to our local economy, which is far better than my overall concern for state, regional, and national welfare. :shades:

Greenville's local economy won't mean squat if the state or national economy crumbles. The three are intricately intertwined. Case in point: Greenville surely isn't funding ICAR on its own.

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