Seven NC urban areas in “Top 100” cities

Raleigh – Gov. Mike Easley today announced that seven North Carolina urban areas ranked among the nation’s “Top 100 Best Performing Cities” in an annual economic performance index released by the Milken Institute/Greenstreet Real Estate Partners.

The index ranked the Raleigh-Cary metropolitan area as No. 2 in the nation and Wilmington as No. 6. Durham’s 21st place ranking helped give North Carolina three urban areas in the survey’s top 25.

“We are proud that North Carolina again ranks at the top in national economic surveys,” Easley said. “Our recognition that education and economic development are linked and our sustained investments and innovation in our schools, continues to bring good-paying, stable jobs to the state.”

The annual study, Best-Performing Cities 2008: Where America’s Jobs Are Created and Sustained, ranks metropolitan areas by how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth. Factors used to determine the ranking includes: short- and long-term job growth; wage and salary statistics; and concentration of high-tech industries.

The Raleigh-Cary area rose from No. 10 in 2007 to No. 2 this year. The area ranked 11th in five-year job growth and first in job growth from March 2007 to March 2008. Wilmington ranked fourth in high-tech sector output growth from 2002-2007 and fifth in one-year job growth.

In all, nine North Carolina metropolitan areas made the list of the Top 200 Best Performing Cities. In addition to Raleigh-Cary, Wilmington and Durham, the others are:

26, Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord;
46, Asheville;
52, Fayetteville;
99, Winston-Salem;
141, Greensboro-High Point;
191, Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton.

In addition, Greenville ranked 22nd in the list of “Best Performing Small Metros.”

Asheville and Durham were listed among the survey’s largest “gainers.” Asheville climbed 71 spots, from 117th in 2007 and Durham jumped 53 spots from 74th to 21st. No North Carolina cities were listed among the biggest “decliners.”

The latest recognition for the economic performance of North Carolina’s cities follows similar statewide rankings this year: Chief Executive magazine, a trade publication for top corporate executives, named North Carolina the state with the nation’s third-best business climate; the Pollina Real Estate Corp. named North Carolina as the No. 1 Top Pro-Business State; Development Counselors International ranked North Carolina’s business climate as the second best in the nation; Forbes rated North Carolina No. 4 on its 2008 list of The Best States for Business; and Site Selection magazine listed North Carolina as the state with the top business climate six of the last seven years.

The Milken Institute report is available online.