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New Rankings of America's Small Cities and Towns Offers Clues About How Local Economies Survive Global Disruptions

Heartland Forward releases its annual rankings of America's Most Dynamic Micropolitans

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Sept. 29, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- COVID-19 shocked the global economy, and the reverberations of that disruption were felt acutely in America's micropolitans, where resident populations number 10,000 to 50,000. How did some not only survive but thrive during the pandemic? That is the subject of Heartland Forward's most recent research report, Most Dynamic Micropolitans, released today.

Researchers ranked and analyzed the economic dynamism of 536 micropolitan areas across the United States by studying changes in key economic conditions from 2015 through 2020, with special attention to the change in employment from September 2020 through September 2021 to better understand communities' ability to rebound from the early months of the pandemic.

Those micropolitans at the top shared certain characteristics, including access to outdoor recreation, industries that focused on food production or processing and specializations in oil and gas. The data suggests that the strongest way to ensure sustainable economic development is industry diversification. Micros that also provide natural amenities are among those that avoided economic ruin during the pandemic.

The rankings
Top 25 Micropolitan Areas in the United States for 2022:

  1. Los Alamos, NM

  2. Jackson, WY-ID

  3. Heber, UT

  4. Pecos, TX

  5. Jefferson, GA

  6. Bozeman, MT

  7. Hailey, ID

  8. Cedar City, UT

  9. Prineville, OR

  10. Edwards, CO

  11. Moses Lake, WA

  12. Brevard, NC

  13. Key West, FL

  14. Oak Harbor, WA

  15. Breckenridge, CO

  16. Steamboat Springs, CO

  17. Sandpoint, ID

  18. Othello, WA

  19. Gardnerville Ranchos, NV

  20. Fernley, NV

  21. Fredericksburg, TX

  22. Dodge City, KS

  23. Fremont, NE

  24. Jesup, GA

  25. Montrose, CO

Zooming in on the Heartland
Pecos, Texas; Fredericksburg, Texas Dodge City, Kansas; and Fremont, Nebraska are heartland micropolitans in the Top 25 of our rankings this year, and their inclusion mirrors larger national trends. Fredericksburg, Dodge City and Fremont are food manufacturing hubs. Though their products are diverse – Fredericksburg is focused on wine; Dodge City has meat processing; and Fremont benefits from animal feed manufacturing as well as seed oil refining and blending. Fredericksburg and Fremont are also ones to watch. Tthey rank in the Top 20 for young firm employment share and in the Top 100 for young firm knowledge intensity. They are poised for future economic growth through entrepreneurship and innovation.

Contact: Blake Woolsey, (479) 957-6301, bwoolsey@heartlandforward.org


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SOURCE Heartland Forward