Huntsville metro area takes the No. 8 spot on Forbes list
By Marian Accardi
April 15, 2010, 4:48PM
HUNTSVILLE -- There's another top 10 ranking for Huntsville.
The metro area is ranked No. 8 among 200 metro areas in the country in Forbes magazine's Best Places for Business and Careers.
In the ranking, the Huntsville metro area - with a population of 406,000 - captured second place in job growth projected (based on three-year annualized figures) and ranked 37th among the 200 largest U.S. metros in educational attainment. It was No. 112 in the cost of doing business, an index based on the cost of labor, energy, taxes and office space.
"These national rankings and recognitions have benefited us so much in economic development efforts" in encouraging businesses to locate here and existing businesses to grow here, said Brian Hilson, the president and CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce. "We found these rankings are equally helpful in attracting talent and growing our workforce.
"People who are candidates for jobs here are motivated when they see an independent ranking," said Hilson, especially when the ranking is made by a major publication like Forbes. "It just adds to the credibility of our location."
"We're very, very fortunate that our community is not feeling the effects (of the economic downturn) as much as other cities," said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, who's attending the Army Aviation Association of America's 2010 conference in Fort Worth. "This (ranking) validates that our community is moving forward."
Huntsville was ranked No. 15 in 2009.
Forbes' 12th annual ranking looked at the 200 largest metro areas, which range in size from the New York City metro with 11.7 million people to Merced, Calif., with 245,000 residents. It ranked areas on 12 factors, including costs (business and living), job growth (past and projected), income growth, educational attainment and projected economic growth. The study also considered quality-of-life issues like crime, cultural and recreational opportunities and net migration patterns and examined the percentage of subprime mortgages over a three-year stretch and the number of highly ranked four-year colleges in the area.
Other Alabama cities and their 2010 rankings are: Montgomery, 53; Mobile, 62; and Birmingham, 78.
Auburn is No. 6 on the top 25 Best Small Metros list.
The top of this year's list, according to Forbes.com, includes cities in "flyover" states, areas with reasonable business costs, strong economic outlooks and a solid quality of life.
The No. 1 spot goes to Des Moines, Iowa, which was in seventh place last year. Iowa's capital has 562,000 people in the metro area and features business costs 15 percent below the national average. It has an educated labor supply as 33 percent of adults have college degrees (ranking 46th among the 200 largest metros) and 92 percent have high school diplomas.
Last year's winner, Raleigh, N.C., dropped to third this year.