For the fifth year in a row, Enterprise-Ozark micropolitan area has ranked in the top 100 strongest economic micropolitan statistical areas in the nation, according to Policom Corp.'s 2013 Economic Strength Rankings.
“The ranking is a good news story,” Daleville Mayor Claudia Wigglesworth said. “The study validates the economic strength of the area.”
The Enterprise-Ozark micropolitan area, which includes Coffee and Dale counties, is ranked 30th in the nation out of 576 micropolitan statistical areas.
The ranking is down from the 28th ranking last year, but is still higher than the 48th spot in 2011, and the 88th spot in 2010.
“What stands out to me most when reviewing these numbers is the turnaround that we have had starting in 2004,” Eric Basinger, Ozark-Dale County Economic Development Corporation executive director said. “We went from 209th to 28th from 2004 to 2012, and it wasn’t an accident, as we have maintained a strong ranking during the global recession. We all know that 2012 wasn’t a great year for business, but the fact that we basically held our own by only dropping two spots shows a resilient strength in our regional economy.”
This year, the Enterprise-Ozark area is the only Alabama micropolitan area ranked in the nation’s top 50.
The area ranked as the state’s number one micropolitan area out of 13 other areas in the state.
Alabama micropolitan areas featured in the study include: Albertville, Alexander City, Cullman, Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, Enterprise-Ozark, Eufaula, Fort Payne, Selma, Scottsboro, Talladega-Sylacauga, Troy, Tuskegee and Valley.
This is the second year the Enterprise-Ozark area has placed first in the state.
The Daphne-Fairhope-Foley micropolitan area ranked second in the state this year, followed by the Troy area in third.
The Enterprise-Ozark area has maintained a top five position in the state for the past nine years.
Every year, Policom Corp., of Palm City, Fla., releases the economic strength rankings.
Policom, an independent economic research firm that specializes in analyzing local and state economies, was founded in 1995 and began analyzing micropolitan statistical areas in 2002.
The rankings are based on 23 different economic factors over a 20-year period from 1992 to 2011.
Factors measured in the rankings include: wages, personal income, employment statistics, construction revenue, retail revenue and consistency of growth or decline.
The overall condition of the economy is based on the “standard of living” of the people who live and work in the area.
“There have been some excellent developments surrounding Fort Rucker, such as Daleville’s tremendous growth in simulation technology companies and the investment by the Army Aviation Federal Credit Union with their new headquarters construction,” Basinger said. “Elsewhere in Dale County, the Alabama Aviation Center Campus in Ozark has experienced enrollment growth as our local talented students continue to become certified in the high-paying aviation mechanic field.”
The Policom Corp. created the economic strength rankings to study the characteristic of both strong and weak economies. The highest-ranked areas have rapid, consistent growth in both size and quality for an extended period of time, whereas the lowest have unstable decline for an extended period of time.
“What I really think (this) means for us, not only the city but regionally, we really are an area of opportunities,” Wigglesworth said. “Here in Daleville we have the (helicopter) simulators, but obviously our ranking in terms of economic development goes beyond that. It’s also our opportunity to attract, not just in Daleville, (but) regionally. That’s why it’s called a micropolitan.”
For a micropolitan area to be considered in the study, the micropolitan area must have a city with a population of at least 10,000, but fewer than 50,000.
Enterprise, the “City of Progress” and the Enterprise-Ozark’s primary city, had an estimated population of 26,562 in 2010.
Ozark, the Dale County seat, had a population of about 14,907 in 2010. Daleville, in 2010, had an estimated population of about 5,295.
“The potential is there for continued growth economically,” Wigglesworth said. “(The rankings) show that we have opportunities and we want to obviously continue to remain at the top of both of those lists.”