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Oxford Square. Photo courtesy of Visit Oxford

Oxford maintains high ranking on economic strength poll

 

By JACK WEATHERLY

Oxford maintained its high standing in economic strength among “micropolitan” economic areas, edging up to No. 8 this year from ninth place among 542 such areas in the United States, according to the Policom Corp.

Policom defines economic strength as “rapid, consistent growth in both size and quality for an extended period. The lowest ranked areas have been in decline for an extended period, according to Policom.

Policom uses a rigorous methodology to determine rankings among micropolitan areas, which have populations between 10,000 and 50,000. To examine the methodology go to policom.com/wp-content/uploads/2020-STRENGTH-RANKINGS.pdf and do a control left click.

The next-highest ranking among Southern micropolitan areas is Key West, Fla., 29th, followed by Cookeville, Tenn., 32nd and Tullahoma, Tenn., 37th.

“Holding our ranking in the top ten means that we are doing something special in Oxford,” Jon Maynard, president and chief executive of the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation, said in a release. “We are taking care of business in a long-term, sustainable way.”

Bozeman, Mont., is ranked No. 1. Rounding out the top 10 in order are: Vineyard Haven, Mass.; Heber, Utah; Lewisburg, Pa.; Hood River, Ore.; Breckenridge, Colo.; Wooster, Ohio; Oxford; Astoria, Ore., and Kallispell, Mont.

The next highest ranking among Mississippi cities is Columbus, at No. 99, followed by Tupelo at 102, Starkville, 202; Corinth, 335; Brookhaven, 347; Vicksburg, 387; Laurel, 404; West Point, 436; Grenada, 434; Picayune, 435; Cleveland, 516; Greenville, 522; Indianola, 540; Clarksdale, 541.

Oxford and Starkville are rival communities, primarily because they are home to the state’s two largest universities: The University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University, respectively.

The gap between Oxford and Starkville is because of the surrounding counties, Lafayette and Oktibbeha, respectively. The latter has much more poverty outside Starkville than the population outside Ole Miss in Lafayette County, according to William Fruth, president of Policom.

Hattiesburg, which is located primarily in Forrest County, is home to the third-largest public university in the state, but its statistical area puts it in the 50,000-and-above category, in which is ranks 240th of 384 metropolitan areas.

Ranked No. 1 among all U.S. metropolitan statistical areas in economic strength is Nashville. Memphis is No 136. Jackson is No. 208.

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About Jack Weatherly