June 2, 2014 11:51:24 AM
POLICOM's latest annual economic strength rankings have Columbus just outside the top 10 micropolitan statistical areas in the United States.
Columbus was ranked 11th out of 536 areas with populations between 10,000 and 50,000 in the condition of its economy. That is an all-time high and represents 10 consecutive years of improvements in the rankings. Columbus is first in the state in the rankings. Last year, Columbus was ranked 24th. It was ranked 374th in 2004.
Starkville's ranking fell slightly from 190th last year to 195th in 2014.
West Point, whose ranking was 406th last year, is no longer considered a micropolitan statistical area, but the study reports there are 40 fewer micropolitan areas in the country than there were in 2013. Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins said he expects West Point to be back on the list after operations begin at Yokohama Tire Company's plant in 2015.
"West Point lost its micro status, due in part to commuting patterns," Higgins said. "Yokohama should correct this and when they come back I would expect improvement in their ranking."
Columbus' ranking was highest in the state in micropolitan areas with the next closest two being Oxford (14th) and Tupelo (32nd).
POLICOM, a Florida-based research firm, ranks cities based on 20-year trends in growth rates, consistency, industry averages and other factors. The rankings help POLICOM study the characteristics of strong and weak economies and what causes an area to grow or decline while offering solutions for improvement.
POLICOM CEO William Fruth was recently paid $50,000 to conduct a comprehensive economic and community development study for the Golden Triangle Area as a whole and individually for Columbus, Starkville and West Point. The LINK paid half of that amount, while the remainder was underwritten by C-Spire, which agreed to a deal to locate a $20 million data center in the Thad Cochran research park at Mississippi State University.
In that report, Fruth said the Golden Triangle had the potential to become one of the most dynamic small-area economies in the U.S. if the three major cities were prepared to invest in workforce training efforts, research and expansion projects.
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