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The 2016 Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index named the Auburn-Opelika Metropolitan Area No. 6 in the Best Performing Cities Annual Index, up from No. 10 in 2015.
The Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index ranks U.S. metropolitan areas by how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth. The components include job, wage and salary, and technology growth.
“Opelika is able to attract major industries, as well as take care of our medium-to-small businesses, because of our education and workforce development, unparalleled school systems, our affordable cost of living and the exceptional quality of life we offer businesses and citizens alike. And with Opelika being the first GIG city in Alabama, we can offer businesses world-class technology. With the great companies that have chosen to locate in Opelika and the assets that we have in our area, we can understand why this study recognized our MSA as one of the best performing locations,” said Mayor Gary Fuller.
According to the Milken study, in the Auburn-Opelika MSA, the one-year high-tech Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rose 24 places and pulled up the five-year high-tech GDP growth measure. One and five-year wage growth also rose in rank, which, in conjunction with job growth, indicates that incomes have increased. Employment in the transportation equipment manufacturing sector grew 11.3 percent from 2014 to 2015, showing the metro is competitive in manufacturing in a more globalized world.
“Existing industry expansions by Pharmavite, Baxter and Mando have added to Opelika’s growth in technology based positions as these companies are able to utilize the well-educated workforce in the area,” says Lori Huguley, CEcD, Opelika Economic Development director.
Pharmavite, the producer of Nature Made vitamins, became the first dietary supplement manufacturing facility in Alabama when they chose to locate in Opelika in 2011 and has continued to expand its operations here.
Baxter International is nearing completion of a major expansion of its Opelika facility that produces renal filters for kidney dialysis. Baxter continues to be one of the largest capital investments in Opelika and will be adding 200 jobs to the Opelika facility upon completion of the current expansion.
South Korea-based Mando, one of the world’s largest automotive parts suppliers, based its North American headquarters in Opelika and has continued to grow. After completion of the latest expansion, Mando will be one of the largest manufacturing employers in Opelika with more than 700 associates.
Adams Beverages’ creation of a distribution center in Opelika also helps to signal further job growth.
New firms coming into the area as well as expansion of existing businesses indicates firms are taking advantage of the lower cost of doing business in our city.