The Richmond region is among the best midsize metropolitan areas in the country for economic growth potential.

Among peer cities, Richmond slotted fourth in the annual Metro Rankings Report published this month by Business Facilities magazine, a trade publication for site location consultants.

City leaders heralded the honor as an acknowledgment of the region’s progress. 

“Our city and our metro area’s high rankings in these core categories bode well for Richmond’s growth trajectory,” said Leonard Sledge, Richmond’s director of economic development, in a news release. “These rankings present an opportunity to learn from the innovative practices of higher-ranked cities and continually improve.”

The report, which the magazine releases annually, ranks metropolitan areas based on a slew of economic development factors, including gross domestic product, cost of living, and small business and startup climate.

Richmond trailed Grand Rapids, Mich.; Madison, Wis.; and Birmingham, Ala., in the midsize category for economic growth potential. But it outranked the likes of Jersey City, N.J.; Reno, Nev.; and Virginia Beach. 

Earlier this month, Amazon, the online retail giant, announced it would open a new fulfillment center in South Richmond, bringing 150 new jobs. Richmond-based CoStar also said it would add 100 jobs in the city.

As of May, the city’s unemployment rate was 3% — on par with the statewide figure and slightly lower than the 3.6% rate nationally at the same point. 

Richmond scored high among metro areas in the ranking for its ability to land corporate headquarters among cities with populations of 300,000 or less, as well as for its capacity to attract millennial job seekers, finishing second and seventh, respectively.

The Greater Richmond Partnership, a public-private economic development group, touted the achievements, citing the seven Fortune 500 companies and three Fortune 1000 companies that call the region home.

“In the U.S., few regions our size have a higher concentration of Fortune headquarters than we do, and we’re honored to be ranked among the best locations,” said Jennifer Wakefield, the Partnership’s interim president and CEO.

In July, Virginia reclaimed the title of best state to do business in the annual CNBC ranking released. The last time the state came in first was in 2011.

mrobinson@timesdispatch.com
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Twitter: @__MarkRobinson