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C.R. jumps to 13, I.C. to 8 on Milken ‘Best Performing Cities’ lists

Dave DeWitte, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa –

Cedar Rapids and Iowa City ranked near the top in the annual Milken Institute ranking of cities by economic performance for 2011, according to a statement released Monday, Dec. 19.

Iowa City climbed one notch in the rankings to No. 8 on the institute’s small cities list. Cedar Rapids jumped 15 spots to No. 13 on the large cities list.

The index ranks metro areas based on job creation, wages, gross domestic product, technology and sustainability factors. Texas cities dominated the top five in the list, with San Antonio first, Fort Collins second, Austin-Round Rock third, and Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood fifth.

Cedar Rapids’ gains in the list were due largely to stability in electronics manufacturing, financial services and insurances services.Iowa City’s gains were due mainly to wage growth and growth in high-technology gross domestic product.

Regional economic development agencies expressed pride in the findings. Both Iowa City Area Development Group and Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance work to sustain and expand existing interstate commerce base and recruit companies.

“Building on our strengths and regional assets results in job and salary growth for our metros,” Iowa City Area Development Group President Joe Raso said in prepared remarks

Priority One President Dee Baird, also interim president of the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, said that being identified as a Best Performing City by Milken Institute is evidence that the region’s diverse economy, well-educated workforce and excellent quality of life has created substantial economic growth.

“As we look to be one of the top economic growth regions in the country, we will remain focused on supporting the creation and retention of high-quality jobs,” Baird said.

The groups noted that the Milken ratings are based on tangible outcomes, and do not incorporate inputs such as business costs, cost-of-living components and quality of life measures.

The groups said their communities are dedicated to regional growth within the Corridor Alliance region that includes Linn, Johnson, Washington, Benton, Jones, Cedar and Iowa Counties.

Among other large Iowa metro areas, Des Moines dropped from 33rd to 83rd in the rankings, and the Quad-Cities fell from 104th to 107th. Omaha-Council Bluffs rose from 46nd to 22nd.

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