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Seattle Makes Top 10 List for Business

December 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Finance, National

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MarketWatch, part of The Wall Street Journal Digital Network, released its annual rankings of the best cities in the U.S. for business this week. Out of 102 major metro areas covered, guess which city climbed from No. 31 in 2009 to No. 10 in 2010? 

MarketWatch uses a variety of measures to break down data into two categories: “Company Score,” the concentration of businesses within a metro area, and “Economic Score,” which takes into account unemployment, job growth, population growth, personal income and local gross domestic product.  More metric categories were used in this year’s rankings, in part to better reflect tourism business and the economic impact of military bases.

Based on these calculations, Seattle’s No. 10 ranking had a total score of 932, with a Company Score of 501 and an Economic Score of 431. Ranked No. 1 is Washington, D.C., then Omaha; Boston; Des Moines, Iowa; Minneapolis; Denver; Richmond, Va.; New York City and Harrisburg, Pa.  Other West Coast city rankings include San Francisco at 33, Portland at 52 and Los Angeles at 61.  At the No. 102 position?  Fresno.

What made the difference this year? Employment. Whereas Seattle’s sad showing in 2009 was due to poor statistics in job creation, its jobless rate dropped by a third of a percentage point to 8.7 percent in September 2010. MarketWatch also notes that Seattle did well in jobless comparisons between 2006 and 2010, and in keeping the percentages down over that period.  It also hits the upper ranks in creating jobs relative to its population.

However, MarketWatch noted that Seattle is lacking in the number of major private companies. No businesses from Forbes Private Companies’ list reside in Seattle, and we are the largest U.S. city without one.  But while the Seattle area may be amiss in that sector, it is home to a diverse selection of large S&P corporations such as amazon.com, Boeing, Costco, Microsoft, Nordstrom and Starbucks.  Plum Creek, the largest publicly-held timber REIT in the country, is based in Seattle. And last week, The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center announced its purchase of the 1100 Eastlake building, expanding its South Lake Union footprint to 15.2 acres. 

Add a Pacific Rim gateway, the natural beauty of the Puget Sound area, plus a diverse culture, and we’re confident that Seattle will continue to remain high in “Best” rankings for years to come.

(Photo by Marmaduke Percy, Wikimedia Commons)