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Springfield economy ranks 53rd among ‘best-performing’ cities in 2016

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A week of extraordinary grand openings in downtown Springfield will culminate with the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival for three days on the weekend, including a parade and car show.

A week of extraordinary grand openings in downtown Springfield will culminate with the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival for three days on the weekend, including a parade and car show.

The Springfield economy has been ranked 53rd among the nation’s “best-performing” cities according to the Milken Institute’s annual Best-Performing Cities index for 2016. That’s a jump of 14 spots over 2015 when Springfield ranked 67th. In 2014, Milken ranked Springfield 32nd among 200 metropolitan statistical areas.

The economic non-profit think tank takes an in-depth look annually at the economic factors shaping cities and towns, in an effort to find out what makes some areas more successful than others.

The institute uses a fact-based, comprehensive evaluation system across metropolitan areas that relies upon job, wage, and technology trends shaping current and prospective pathways.

“I believe our integrated approach to building a cohesive plan to develop the workforce has had an impact in our community,” says Mary Ann Rojas, Springfield’s Workforce Development Director. “The Missouri Job Center’s one-stop shop model allows job seekers to connect more easily with employers and we are doing a better job to prepare workers through training investment, apprenticeships and other activities.”

In turn, employers are posting more jobs through the center and participating in initiatives that help foster job growth and pathways, Rojas said.

“Springfield is in a great position for continued growth, and this news is the latest confirmation that our community is a vibrant and dynamic place to live, work and play,” says Matt Morrow, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce president. “But it doesn’t ‘just happen.’ As a community, we work hard and play together. At our best, we collaborate, and we are careful to make decisions that will position us well for continued success.”

The latest ranking indicates that cities that excel in innovation drive the nation’s economic growth. With an ecosystem for entrepreneurship, San Jose, CA, claimed the top spot again.

“America’s best-performing cities yet again demonstrated their innovation advantage aligned with high levels of entrepreneurship,” says Ross DeVol, chief research officer of the Milken Institute and one of the report’s authors. “That is witnessed not just in ‘traditional’ technology but in medical and financial services.”

The Best-Performing Cities index, compiled since 1999, uses a comprehensive, fact-based set of criteria to rank 200 large and 201 small metros across the United States. As an outcomes-based index, growth in employment, wages and technology output are heavily weighted; metrics such as cost-of-living and quality-of-life conditions, often highly subjective, are not included.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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