Okaloosa County Named Top MSA In Florida...
A national economic development trade publication has named the Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin area the best-performing metropolitan statistical area in Florida. Area Development, a publication based in New York, recently ranked the Top 100 metropolitan statistical areas in the United States based on more than 20 economic and workforce growth indicators.
The Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin MSA — Okaloosa County — was the only such area in Florida to make the Top 100, coming in at No. 87. “It’s a little surprising, considering the size of the state of Florida (that only one MSA made the top 100),” said Geraldine Gambale, editor of Area Development. Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin also ranked No. 36 in the Top 50 mid-sized MSAs and No. 10 in the Top 20 South Atlantic MSAs.
Metropolitan statistical areas are defined as relatively densely populated areas of more than 100,000. While compiling its list, Area Development evaluated 365 MSAs using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. Census and other organizations.Florida had 20 MSAs listed in the 365.
The Panama City-Lynn Haven-Panama City Beach MSA was ranked No. 221 and the Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent MSA ranked No. 297 Larry Sassano, president of the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council, said the county’s low unemployment rate and low property tax rate contributed to the MSA’s strong showing. “Those MSAs are doing pretty well in terms of job growth, diversification, stability, all the critical economic impact criteria that we look at to gauge how we’re doing compared to those around us and around the country, for that matter,” Sassano said.
“The economy isn’t great, but at least we’re doing better than the vast majority of those economies around the country,” he added. This was the first year Area
Development has compiled its Leading Locations study. Gambale said the publication will update it next year based on the interest it already has received. Sassano said he expects the Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin MSA to perform well in future studies. “We’ll continue to stay on top here because we have projects we haven’t even announced yet, and I think that will continue to help reduce the unemployment rate here,” Sassano said. “I think we’ll also show a little more diversity in the business economy. We’re looking at other industry sectors that are evaluating Okaloosa County as a place to grow their business.”
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