Forbes names Nashville a 'Region to Watch' for 2014

Nashville's economy is among the nation's best among large metro areas and that momentum is expected to continue in 2014, according to a new Forbes report.

Music City was ranked No. 5 on the "U.S. Regions To Watch In 2014" list published on The city trails only a trio of Texas cities (Austin, San Antonio and Houston) and Salt Lake City.

Forbes cited the city's GDP growth of 11.5 percent from 2007 to 2012, and its overall job growth of 6.5 percent from late 2007 to late 2013.

The study looked at economic vitality (GDP growth, job growth, real median household income growth and unemployment) and demographic strength (population growth, birth rate, domestic migration and change ineducational attainment).

"Our assumption is that strong local economies attract the most people and create the best conditions for family formation, which in turn generates new demand," writesJoel Plotkin on

One of Nashville's strengths is its growing population of younger, educated workers.

FORBES: The U.S. Regions To Watch In 2014

"Places like Nashville, Denver and Salt Lake are all getting smarter faster, increasing their numbers of educated people faster than "brain" regions such as Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles," Plotkin writes.

Interestingly, the study finds that some of the strongest local economies combine "the positive characteristics associated with blue states — educated people, tech-oriented industries, racial diversity — with largely red, pro-business administrations."

While not a tech hub yet, Nashville has been cited in recent years for its ability to attracted educated young workers to town, and it has made strong strides in racial diversity as well.

As for the region's politics, Republicans dominate the state legislature and the Governor's mansion. Locally, the leadership is not necessarily "red," but it does have a pro-business mindset that generally supports growth and development.

"Looking across the board, it seems likely that the best places to look for work, or invest, will be those that have diversified their economies, kept costs down and attracted a broad cross-section of migrants from other parts of the country," Plotkin writes. "Such places have not only transcended the worst effects of the recession, but seem primed to take advantage of a nascent expansion that could redraw the map of the country."


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