Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Study: Owensboro a high performing small metro

A new U.S. jobs growth report lists Owensboro as a “high performance” small metro based on summer employment trend data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Headlight, LLC, which provides economic and workforce development companies with data and software systems, conducted the analysis.

Owensboro’s annualized growth from June to September was 5.8 percent, and its actual growth was 1.4 percent.

The study also provides a look at how close cities are to their employment status in December 2007 — the start of the recession. Owensboro has a 1.9 percent deficit. This data indicates it would take Owensboro 17 months to get back to the December 2007 employment level.

“Any time you look at comparable data to see where other communities like ours are, and we’re in the top quartile, that’s good,” said Nick Brake, president and CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation. “And any time someone labels you a high-performing metro, it’s a good thing. It shows we have growth, actual and projected.”

The report analyzed 386 metros — 269 were categorized as small. Owensboro fit the criteria of a “micropolitan” area as defined by the BLS. This group has an average population of 50,000-60,000 but can be as high as 195,000. And they are typically single-county “ex-urbs” that can be located close to large metros.

The report is organized by population size.

Only a couple of other Kentucky metros show up in the study.

Louisville-Jefferson County is a “high performance” metro in the medium category for summer 2011. It’s annualized growth was 4.7 percent; actual growth 1.2 percent. It has a greater deficit from -- or further to go to get back to -- the prerecession employment level than Owensboro does. Its rate is -3.4 percent, meaning it could take 37 months to reach that December 2007 point.

The conversion of the job deficit data into “months remaining” to reach the prerecession rate does not suggest that the recovery will take this long, the study states. It is another data point of reference on the speed of the recovery.

The study also shows that 45 percent of the small metros still were in crisis during the summer. And 41 percent of medium and 35 percent of large metros also showed negative job growth.

Elizabethtown ranked in the bottom 5 percent showing -2.9 percent actual job growth.

“That’s almost half the small cities that were in recession this summer,” Brake said. “If you look at the average job growth by metro size, the top 25 percent are doing pretty well, and the bottom are doing really poorly.”

The report indicates that Owensboro has a good strategy in diversifying its economy and pursuing different options for growth including “quality of place and quality of life,” Brake said.

Not surprising, Brake said, is that it also shows a corollary -- many cities in the top 25 are college cities or are focused on quality of place or quality of life issues.

“They’re focused on creating a strong workforce, attracting young people and attracting entrepreneurs,” he said. “Anything we can do to focus on aligning with this sector is important.”

“While growth has appeared slow but steady for the nation, the recovery has been far from uniform across metros in the U.S.,” the study synopsis states.

The public release about Headlight’s growth report is at http://www.headlightllc.com/bestsummer2011/.

Joy Campbell, 691-7299, jcampbell@messenger-inquirer.com

Friday, November 4, 2011

Riverfront Crossings

Owensboro Downtown Waterfront Hotel

Two years ago, this community said goodbye to the storied Executive Inn. This landmark hotel hosted scores of events, conventions, concerts, and helped define Owensboro as a premiere destination city in our Commonwealth. The City of Owensboro and the Daviess County Fiscal Court took a monumental step forward in 2009 with the ratification of the Downtown Placemaking Initiative. One of the key components of that plan involved the construction of a new hotel in conjunction with an indoor Convention/Events center.
At the Owensboro Chamber of Commerce Rooster Booster Breakfast this week, developer Malcolm Bryant unveiled his design for the proposed 151-room Hampton Inn & Suites. The hotel will be the only LEED-certified hotel in Kentucky, and will also include a full-service restaurant, state-of-the-art meeting rooms, bridge connection to the new 169,000 sq ft Convention/Events Center, and retail and cafe space that will complement the pedestrian and new urban feel of our revitalized downtown.

This is truly a landmark day for Owensboro! Congratulations to the Malcolm Bryant Corporation, the City of Owensboro, and the scores of others who are taking this giant leap forward!

Owensboro-Daviess Co. the next Silicon Valley?

Business Insider magazine has put Daviess County on a 20 county list that could be the next Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley sits in Northern California. It's where Apple computers were born.

"Silicon Valley is really the hub of innovation for the United States," says Madison Silvert of EDC.

What does Owensboro have to do with silicon valley?

Business experts say in the future, Owensboro could be the next Silicon Valley for several reasons.

"They have access to higher education, they have an innovative spirit, they're nice communities, moderately sized. Quality of life is one of those things that you absolutely have to have to be able to attract the talent that is necessary to promote high-tech growth," Silvert says.

Along with lower than average unemployment rates, Hollison Technologies CEO Kevin Humphrey says Owensboro's Center for Business and Research is a big reason why he thinks Owensboro made Business Insider's cut.

"Often entrepreneurs are people with good ideas. May not be um well suited to run their own business yet and need guidance in places and that being available is a wonderful tool."

"We're creating a bio-technology sector here in food and medical in pharmaceuticals specifically plant made pharmaceuticals where you can see some of the advancements that could be made in this kind of high tech environment. The seeds have been planted," Silvert says.

Daviess County was the only county in Kentucky that made business insider's list.