Oct 4, 2022 - News

4 Colorado towns among nation's top 25 most dynamic micropolitans

Graphic: Heartland Forward

In Colorado and nationwide, small metro areas — dubbed "micropolitans" — have found that mixing outdoor recreation with manufacturing led to prosperity during the pandemic.

Why it matters: The COVID pandemic has shown, more than ever, that a diversified economy is the best hedge against the unknown, Axios Northwest Arkansas' Worth Sparkman writes.

Driving the news: Four Colorado towns were listed among the nation's top 25 most dynamic micropolitans in a new report from Heartland Forward, an economic renewal institute in Bentonville, Arkansas.

  • The Centennial State's top micropolitans are: Edwards (No. 10), Breckenridge (15), Steamboat Springs (16) and Montrose (25), per the analysis.
  • Edwards benefited from REVER developing a motorcycle ride-planning app that gives guidance for on- and off-road routes across the state and beyond, the report states.

How it works: Heartland Forward's study — "Most Dynamic Micropolitans: 2022" — ranks 536 U.S. towns with populations of 10,000 to 50,0000 people.

  • Researchers used growth in average annual pay, employment numbers, GDP, level of per capita income, young-firm employment share and share of degreed workers employed at young firms.
  • The ranking uses both historical and forward-looking data — including entrepreneurship — to show where growth is likely.

What they're saying: "Areas offering a mix of broadband connectivity and access to the outdoors became a respite from the difficulties of pandemic-era city life," the report says.

  • The figures can be used as a roadmap for micropolitans looking to grow their economies, Dave Shideler, Heartland Forward chief research officer, told Axios.

Zoom in: Twelve of the top 25 micros are in the West, including Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

  • Unsurprisingly, Colorado's 10 micropolitans are mostly in the western part of the state, including Glenwood Springs (40), Durango (112) and Craig (270).

Yes, but: Two towns in northeast Colorado — Sterling (172) and Fort Morgan (113) — also landed on the list.

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