Greeley, Fort Collins, Boulder metro areas make ‘Best Performing Cities’ list

Greeley leaped five spots nationally this year and was top-ranked in Colorado on the Milken Institute’s 2015 list of the best-performing cities, which is touted as showing “where America’s jobs are created and sustained.”

The Milken Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank based in Santa Monica, Calif., released the rankings Tuesday. The rankings compare cities based on things such as job creation, wage gains, and technology trends that shape current and potential patterns of growth.

The rankings looked at two divisions: Large City, which included the 200 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country, and Small City.

The Greeley MSA, which actually includes all of Weld County, landed at No. 9, and was one of four Colorado regions to make the list. The Fort Collins MSA, or Larimer County, climbed three spots to No. 14. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood MSA, which includes Broomfield, fell four spots to No. 16. And the Boulder MSA, or Boulder County, dropped nine spots to No. 22.

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., climbed three spots to take over No. 1. It was followed by San Francisco; Provo-Orem, Utah; Austin-Round Rock, Texas; Dallas; Raleigh, N.C.; Seattle; and Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore./Wash.

Weld County’s climb was driven by it taking the top spot in one-year and five-year employment gains, as well as one-year wage growth. Much of that was powered by the booming oil and gas industry, though the report notes that high dependence on that industry could also slow growth “as employers restructure to account for lower oil prices.”

Larimer County was noted for its educated workforce and high quality of life, while rising housing prices were viewed as a short-term risk.

While the diverse tech industry in Boulder County was noted for driving much of Boulder’s strength, the established presence of that industry, the study pointed out, also makes large growth rates more difficult to come by.

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