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Tri-City Area Racks Up Six Straight Years of Economic Gains, Ranks 147th

Rapid, Consistent Growth Good News for Saginaw-Bay City-Midland

January 14, 2003       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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New Bay Aggregates site in Bangor Township near the mouth of the Saginaw River is a bright spot.

The Saginaw-Bay City-Midland area is growing in economic strength despite predictions of the demise of the manufacturing sector.

Local economic developers, headed by Saginaw Future president JoAnn Crary, note that the area has recently climbed into the top half of United States metropolitan areas in a leading economic ranking.

POLICOM Corp., an independent economic research firm, ranks Saginaw-Bay City-Midland 147th among the 318 metropolitan areas in the U.S. for 2002.

What is most noteworthy is that the tri-city area was 215th on the list in 1995 and has improved in rankings every year since, jumping 32 places last year alone.

"Saginaw continues to add jobs and further establish itself as a regional center for healthcare, business services and advanced manufacturing," said Crary. "This diversification translates into positive news for the entire area."

Bay County economic development officials say Bay County is contributing to the high ranking of thearea, pointing to a new research center for Dow Corning Corp., which employs about 1,500 persons in Bay County, expansion of S.C. Johnson Co. in the Bay City industrial park, about 900 jobs at 19 enterprises in the Valley Center Technology Park, the new Bay Aggregates and Bit-Mat sites in Bangor Township at the mouth of the Saginaw River.

POLICOM, located in Jupiter, Florida, for the past seven years has measured earnings, employment and distress of the nation's recognized metropolitan areas. Its study evaluates 18 economic factors over a 25-year period.

"The study measures the economic soundness of the area," said William H. Fruth, president of POLICOM. "This is not a 'quality of life' or 'best places to live' study." The firm also grades each area from A+ to D- to place the numeric ranking in better perspective. The tri-city area received a B- for the past two years.

"It is characteristic of strong economies to have rapid, consistent growth for an extended period of time," Fruth said. "Typically, this is the result of having a diversified economic base. If an area changes upward in ranking from the previous year, it means the area gained in strength relative to the other areas, the other areas have weakened in strength or a combination of both. Shifts of 10 places or more are not statistically significant, unless the same shift has occurred repeatedly over the years."

Number one in the nation for the fourth straight year is Austin-San Marcos, Texas, which earned an A+ ranking. Rounding out the nation's top five are Denver, 2nd; Atlanta, 3rd; Phoenix-Mesa, 4th; and Dallas, 5th.

Among other Michigan rankings, Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland was ranked 46th with an A grade; Ann Arbor 80th with an A-; Detroit 105th, B+; Kalamazoo-Battle Creek 114th with a B, Lansing-East Lansing 176th with a C+; Benton Harbor 271 with a D, and Flint 291st with a D.

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at

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