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Regional Performance Over Time: Thriving and Reviving Amid Economic Challenges

Aug 11, 2016

What factors distinguish cities that can withstand an economic downturn, or rebound afterward, from those that cannot? Are these factors unique to successful cities, or are there best practices that can be adopted by peer cities? Building on the Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities index, this paper examines what sets resilient cities apart.

A city’s economic performance is driven by a confluence of factors, including national and international trends, local government policy, industry mix, technological change, and the choices made by individual firms and entrepreneurs. Although a city that capitalizes on a boom in its core industry can climb to the top of the index for a year or two and potentially present attractive investment opportunities, a sustained strong showing or swift rebound indicates a broader set of assets than a sharp rise and fall.

Cities with similar economies were classified using a cluster analysis, and performance over time on the Best-Performing Cities index was evaluated within groups. This approach unveiled trends common to the group as a whole and identified cities that outperformed their peers during the period studied.

This paper represents a first step in examining the resilience of cities. It will be followed by a series of case studies that explore the choices of successful cities and identify factors that helped them resist or recover from downturns. The broader aim of this series is to use the experiences behind the numbers to offer decision-makers in peer regions a suite of best practices to consider as they pursue robust and sustained prosperity for their communities.

Read more about the regional performance over time project.


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