Wenatchee in the Top Ten Best-Performing Small Cities
The 2017 edition of Best-Performing Small Cities index ranks 201 U.S. metros. Six of 2016’s Top 10 return in 2017. All the Top 10 metros have health care as a cornerstone industry, but there are a few industries that set the Top 10 apart. For example, outdoor tourism-related economies like Bend-Redmond, OR, St. George, UT, Wenatchee, WA, and Bellingham, WA, are all experiencing growth. As populations grow, these metros’ real estate industries have
been stimulated, spurred by lower living costs. Meanwhile, aging populations further bolster the local health care sectors by increasing demand for services. Two notable industries that define some metro economies are manufacturing and high-tech sectors. Bend-Redmond, OR, San Rafael, CA, and Bellingham, WA benefit from a continued growth of their economies’ high-tech presence while Gainesville, GA, Elkhart-Goshen, IN, Columbus, IN, and Auburn- Opelika, AL, see growth coming from manufacturing. Yuba City, CA, sees its health care industry continue to grow, helping the metro become a Top 10 performer. Health care, tourism, manufacturing, high-tech sectors, and all things housing-related set the top performers apart in this year’s Small Cities ranking.
reaches No. 5 this year on the Top 10 BPC Small Cities index—this is a 31 rank improvement over last year’s edition. Strong growth in jobs and wages in both one and five-year indicators contribute to the metro’s fifth-place finish this year. The metro is highly dependent on agriculture, specifically apples. A heavy fire season has spared the metro’s crops, helping to maintain growth. The metro hosts the Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, which benefits from an area that produced more apples than the rest of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The metro hopes to introduce a new apple WA 38, or the “Cosmic Crisp,” in 2019 and mass market it in 2020. The apple will be priced to compete at the upper-end of the apple market where profit margins are higher. C&O Nursery in Wenatchee has invested in tech company Phytelligence, which is developing more robust planting methods for fruit trees and grapevines. Abundant Robotics has been developing robotic harvesters, which have received funding from Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and investment interest from Google. Investment into more capital intensive farming and other methods used to save on labor costs are being tested in the metro. Allan Bros. and Stemilt are also developing a way to increase the harvesting productivity of orchards through mechanization. Apples are the main crop, but the metro supports cherry and pear orchards as well.
The other major industry in the metro is tourism, but there is an increasing presence of health-care-related development. Private sector job growth came from tourism and health care with these two sectors contributing 860 jobs this year. The area is also home to one of the nine U.S. Forestry Science Labs, which contributes to a large concentration of forestry employment. In fact, the region is 24 times more concentrated than the U.S.