By MELINDA WILLIAMS
The New River Valley metropolitan statistical area was ranked the “biggest mover” for having climbed 128 positions from 2011 to 2012 in the Milken Institute’s index of Best Performing Small Cities.
According to Aric Bopp, New River Valley Economic Development Alliance executive director, the NRV “skyrocketed 128 spots over its 2011 ranking” to land in the number 32 position in the Institute’s 2012 report. That climb made the NRV the “biggest mover” on the list.
The Milken ranking is just one of several national rankings the NRV has received over the past few years. Forbes recently ranked the NRV the fifth Best Small City for Jobs and 24/7 Wall Street ranked the Valley second in its American Cities Adding Jobs list. The region also was ranked 20th by Area Development Magazine for Best Mid-size City of Economic Strength.
Asked how important these high national rankings are to the area’s economic development, Bopp said, “It shows we have a strong economy and community.”
He explained that when companies look for a place to locate, “they want to invest in a place they are comfortable is growing and thriving. These rankings certainly help with that.”
Bopp equated the decision to that of someone looking for a place to buy a home. He said people look to build or buy in an area that is strong and growing, not “an area headed in the opposite direction.”
Milken Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan economic think tank. Its Best-Performing Cities index gauges how well the nation’s metro areas are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth. The “Small Cities” index in which the NRV is listed ranked the nation’s 179 metropolitan statistical areas with populations of 200,000 or less.
Bopp said the New River Valley (called the Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford metro area) includes Pulaski, Montgomery and Giles counties and has a population of 162,487. U.S. Office of Management and Budget designates the Valley as a metropolitan statistical area “due to its high degree of economic and social integration,” he said.