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Print Exclusive: Report gives region good mark for high-tech growth

Jan. 27, 2013 @ 08:00 AM

HUNTINGTON — The Huntington-Ashland Metropolitan area lost a little ground over the past year in a newly released economic development survey that ranks the nation’s 200 largest metropolitan areas.

The Tri-State ranked 110th in the Milken Institute’s 2012 Best-Performing Cities, a drop from 88th in 2011, but it was strong in one particular area — growth of high tech output. The Huntington-Ashland metro ranked second among 200 cities in the category of high-tech sector output growth, relative to the U.S. average from 2006 to 2011.

The local metropolitan statistical area (MSA) has a population of 287,599 and covers Cabell and Wayne counties in West Virginia, Lawrence County, Ohio, and Boyd, Carter and Greenup counties in Kentucky.

The Morgantown metro area is lumped in with smaller cities and ranked second in the nation on the Milken report.

Considering that Huntington-Ashland is up against the largest metropolitan areas in the country and that it outranked the Charleston metro area, several metros in Ohio and even areas like Jacksonville, Fla., the 110th ranking is noteworthy, said Bill Hannah, president and CEO of the Ashland Alliance.

“That we’re 110th out of 200 of what they consider large MSAs is significant,” Hannah said.

Looking forward, Tri-State development organizations such as the Ashland Alliance, Huntington Area Development Council, the Huntington Regional Chamber and the Lawrence County Chamber and Development Corporation, should remember that collectively they have more to sell, Hannah added.
“People on the outside are looking at us as a region. We need to look at ourselves that way and consider ourselves that way,” he said.

Hannah said the region especially has more healthcare muscle than some might realize.

Read more about the area's high tech developments and its rankings in other economic areas in Sunday's print edition of The Herald-Dispatch.

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