Tech and energy were the two key factors for top performing cities in 2013, as determined by the Milken Institute 's annual Best Performing Cities report. The top 25 large cities in the ranking is a mix of tech hubs and energy hubs (or both). Texas, California, and Colorado dominate, with 15 of the top 25 large cities between them. Columbia, MO comes in as the top performing small city. What does it take to be the top city? Here's a little more on Austin, TX from the report: Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Texas, reclaimed the top spot in our 2013 Best-Performing Cities ranking after slipping to second last year. Austin ranked second in long-term job growth and ninth in one-year job growth in the latest index. A rising technology center, it is creating high-quality employment that improves the region’s overall wage structure. Economic development officials rightly tout its business-friendly, low-tax, low-regulation climate when recruiting outside the state, particularly when soliciting California firms. Austin’s recruitment strategy includes promoting the startups of local entrepreneurs, the spinouts from the local University of Texas campus, and the number and quality of UT graduates. Austin’s technology base is fairly diversified: hardware, chips and communication gear, computer system design, Internet-related services, and biomedical research. The metro has its share of homegrown tech companies—Dell, Freescale Semiconductor, Flextronics International, and National Instruments among them—and has been successful at attracting technology icons from elsewhere as well. For instance, Apple now employs 3,500 in the metro area, where it can hire designers and engineers for less than in its headquarters of Cupertino, California. In addition, IBM has more than 6,000 employees in the metro area. The homegrown National Instruments, which produces testing and measurement instruments and associated software, announced in February that it will add 1,000 jobs with an average wage exceeding $72,000. The financial services sector is also adding jobs. Visa plans to build a software development center in Austin that will employ 800 workers with an anticipated average salary of $112,000.3 Incentives certainly played a role in Visa’s choosing Austin, but the city has other draws: skilled young professionals and a hip image that makes it easy to recruit workers from out of state. Accenture, AT&T, and Time Warner Cable announced major expansions in the Austin area this year. This influx of young professionals, who prefer renting or buying condominiums, is also changing the mix of housing construction and causing builders to hire. Multifamily construction permits almost tripled in 2012 vs. 2011, hitting 11,300. Construction employment shot up 7.6 percent from June 2012 to June 2013. The Austin Chamber of Commerce has played an active role in the city’s success. The chamber led Opportunity Austin, a five-year effort launched in 2004 to promote investment resulting in job creation. Its aim was to create 72,000 regional jobs. At year-end 2012, 190,900 jobs had been added with wages totaling $9.9 billion.4 Opportunity Austin 3.0—the next five-year phase—will focus on eight industries: clean technology, data centers, digital media, HQ/regional offices, medical device/biosciences, semiconductors, software, and wireless. You can learn more about the report, and use an interactive version of the below map, here .
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