Gadsden Economy Fares Well In Recession

Gadsden has gotten a good report card on how its economy has fared compared to other cities.

A study by Area Development Magazine gives Gadsden and Etowah County high marks in some categories.

The online industrial development magazine ranked the Gadsden-area economy as one of the top 50 small cities in the United States, according to the report in its summer edition.

The survey ranked the country’s 365 metropolitan statistical areas in 23 economic and workforce indicators from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Department of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census American Community Survey.

The Gadsden MSA, which includes all of Etowah County, ranked 126th nationally.

Mayor Sherman Guyton said he hopes the ranking will encourage developers and industries to consider Gadsden.

Gadsden ranked 15th among MSAs nationally in local area unemployment rate change from February 2011 to February 2012.

The unemployment rate the county in February 2011 was 9.8 percent, and it dropped to 7.8 percent in February 2012.

The county ranked 22nd in local unemployment rate change from February 2009 to February 2012.

The unemployment rate in February 2009 was 10.3 percent.

Gadsden ranked 34th nationally in manufacturing job growth from February 2009 to February 2012, according to the report.

It ranked 41st among small cities, trailing only Florence, which was 27th, among other MSAs in the state. It also ranked 15th among Southern cities, with Florence at ninth and Tuscaloosa at 20th.

Florence has a university and a one-half percent sales tax earmarked for industrial development. Guyton said the sales tax funding has allowed Florence to commit more than $32 million to new and expanding industries since 2007.

Gadsden ranked 56th in the U.S. in “recession busting factors,” which look at changes in unemployment, changes in income and wages, changes in manufacturing goods employment and employment growth.

The magazine said it’s a measure of an area’s “resiliency” during the recession.

“We’re proud to be in that position, especially with the economy like it is,” Guyton said.

He said infrastructure improvements, having property available at the Gadsden Airport Industrial Park and Gadsden being in good financial shape to help with projects contributed to the city’s ranking.

“There’s just a lot of things that go into it,” he said.

Guyton was surprised by the city’s performance in the study.

“Hopefully it’s going to mean that we can get on the map more and get visible more where people might look at us to locate here,” he said.

City officials plan to let developers know about the study in hopes of getting them to consider Gadsden as a potential location, and will continue to tout the city as a regional shopping and job hub.

“It shows everybody this is a good place to come to,” Guyton said. “That just tells me we’re doing some things … and (we) want to sort of toot our own horn to get some attention.”

Since 2007, Gadsden has had six new industries, six industry expansions, 25 new commercial businesses, four commercial expansions and 92 small business projects.

By Andy Powell
Times Staff Writer

Area Development Magazine Special Presentation (Summer 2012)

A synopsis of this presentation follows.  It can be read in its entirety at:

Area Development ranked 365 MSAs across 23 economic and workforce growth indicators. In the results we see that even amid the recessionary gloom, there were blooms of prosperity, and there are some places that have gotten back on their feet faster than others.

Leading Locations for 2012: Ranking MSAs for Economic & Job Growth

It’s certainly not news that times have been tough across America’s cities in recent years. The Great Recession may be officially over, but many communities are still suffering a painful hangover.

Not these MSAs, though. Area Development’s Leading Locations have found a way to thrive in the midst of adversity, to prosper while so many places have struggled. More than 9 million jobs vanished during the course of the downturn, and of the 365 MSAs — Metropolitan Statistical Areas — studied here, more than three-quarters still have fewer people working now than they did five years ago. But even amid that gloom, there were blooms of prosperity, and there are some places that have gotten back on their feet faster than others.

Leading Locations for 2012 Methodology

Area Development ranked 365 MSAs across 23 economic and work force indicators. These 23 indicators were pulled from seven (7) data sets (sub-categories) originating from three sources: the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the U.S. Census American Community Survey.

Each MSA earned a ranking within each of the 23 indicators based on its statistical performance within that indicator. The MSA with the best performance in a certain indicator earned a ranking score of “1” and the MSA with the worst performance earned a ranking score of “365.”

Economic and Job Growth – Top 50 Small Cities in the U.S.

1. Columbus, IN
2. Odessa, TX
3. Bismark, ND
4. Midland, TX
5. Casper, WY
6. Morgantown, WV
7. Dubuque, IA
8. Manhattan, KS
9. State College, PA
10. Owensboro, KY
11. Cheyenne, WY
12. Ames, IA
13. San Angelo, TX
14. Williamsport, PA
15. Sandusky, OH
16. Jefferson City, MO
17. Elizabethtown, KY
18. St. Joseph, MO-KS
19. Corvallis, OR
20. Logan, UT-ID
21. Rapid City, SD
22. Lewistown, ID-WA
23. Fairbanks, AK
24. Cumberland, MD-WV
25. Ocean City, NJ
26. Iowa City, IA
27. Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL
28. La Crosse, WI-MN
29. Winchester, VA-WV
30. Bay City, MI
31. Lawton, OK
32. Hinesville-Fort Stewart, GA
33. Ithaca, NY
34. Sioux City, IA-NE-SD
35. Danville, VA
36. Harrisonburg, VA
37. Grand Forks, ND-MN
38. Wheeling, WV-OH
39. Glens Falls, NY
40. Battle Creek, MI
41. Gadsden, AL
42. Wenatchee-East Wenatchee, WA
43. Johnstown, PA
44. Jonesboro, AR
45. Lawrence, KS
46. Springfield, OH
47. Mankato-North Mankato, MN
48. Napa, CA
49. Great Falls, MT
50. Hattiesburg, MS

Economic and Job Growth – Top 20 Southern Cities

1. Lafayette, LA
2. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN
3. Knoxville, TN
4. Owensboro, KY
5. Elizabethtown, KY
6. New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA
7. Chattanooga, TN-GA
8. Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO
9. Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL
10. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN
11. Johnson City, TN
12. Lexington-Fayette, KY
13. Houma-Bayou Cane-Thibodaux, LA
14. Clarksville, TN-KY
15. Gadsden, AL
16. Shreveport-Bossier City, LA
17. Jonesboro, AR
18. Baton Rouge, LA
19. Hattiesburg, MS
20. Tuscaloosa, AL

Area Development Magazine Special Presentation (Summer 2012)