For the third year in a row, a Los Angeles-based think tank has named Bend-Redmond the best-performing small metro area in the nation on several economic measures.
The Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Small cities index ranks 201 U.S. metro areas. Two other Oregon cities, Medford and Albany, moved into the top 10 in 2018.
Bend-Redmond, an area that comprises all of Deschutes County, secured the top ranking with all variables in the top 20, the Milken Institute noted in its report. Bend-Redmond was first in job growth over the five-year period 2012 to 2017 at 19.9 percent. The area was also first in wage growth for 2011 to 2016 at 25.2 percent.
Bend-Redmond climbed the rankings — by 118 places — in high-tech GDP growth over five years. The growth rate was 18 percent from 2012 to 2017. “The high-tech sector has become an anchor industry for the metro, which diversifies the economy beyond health care and tourism,” the Milken Institute reported.
The Bend-Redmond area’s assets are a diversified economy with a large entrepreneurial community and the health care industry serving an aging population, according to the Milken Institute. A liability is the fact that a large segment of the population is in low-wage employment.