Four Colorado metropolitan statistical areas including Boulder landed on Forbes’ 17th annual Best Places for Business and Careers list, all ranking in the top 40, but it’s the No. 1 city that has people buzzing: Denver.
The Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metro area took the top slot for the first time, moving up from fourth place in 2014. Home to 2.8 million people, the metro area “is attractive for its diverse economy, highly educated labor force and outdoor recreational opportunities. Companies are increasingly choosing Denver as the site for new operations or to relocate,” Forbes reports.
Fort Collins (Larimer County) came in at No. 10 on the list, while Boulder (Boulder County) was the third-highest-ranking city at No. 26; Greeley (Weld County) came in at No. 33 and Colorado Springs at 37.
According to Forbes’ report, it looked at the 200 largest metro areas by population in the U.S., rating them on a dozen factors related to employment, costs (business and living), income growth, quality of life and the education of the labor force. Forbes used data from Moody’s Analytics; demographer Bert Sperling, who runs Sperling’s Best Places; and the U.S. Census.
Here are some of the reasons the Denver metro area ranked so high:
Panasonic Enterprise Solutions, a new technology and solar energy division of Panasonic North America, chose Denver over 22 cities for its primary U.S. innovation and sales hub, citing its proximity to nearby universities, Denver International Airport and $1.5 million in incentives. Panasonic is expected to create 330 jobs at an average wage of nearly $90,000.
Lockheed Martin, with more than $46 billion in sales, recently relocated the headquarters of its commercial space operations to its Denver and has more than 4,500 employees in the Denver area.
Denver also has a significant foothold in aviation, bioscience, energy, financial services, information technology, healthcare and telecommunications. “The companies in these industries benefit from Denver and neighboring Boulder, which contain one of the most educated workforces in the country,” Forbes reports.
- Workers recognize Denver’s allure with more than 100,000 out-of-state migrants moving to Denver between 2010 and 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is the fifth biggest influx for any metro area, according to Forbes. The main drawback to Denver’s highly educated workforce is its ability to qualify for many relocation projects has decreased, allowing it to compete only for the top 3 percent or so of projects in terms of wages paid, Forbes says.
Forbes reports that besides being the home to Colorado State University, No. 10 Fort Collins also boasts many high-tech companies including Hewlett Packard, Intel and AMD, each choosing the metro to take advantage of CSU and its research facilities. Up-and-coming industries within the area include clean energy, bioscience and agri-tech businesses.
Raleigh, N.C., fell from the top slot on Forbes’ list last year to second this year, and Portland, Ore., moved up 18th slots from 2014 to No. 3 this year.
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