Area Development Online has ranked Cleveland as the second best metro area in Tennessee for economic performance.
The ranking uses data indicators similar to those used by Moody’s Analytics, which shows Cleveland as having positive economic trends.
“Rankings help us know how we are performing relative to other places. I think that gives us a good measure of our own community and our own efforts,” Doug Berry, Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce vice president for economic development, said.
Berry said the analysis by Moody’s Analytics gives the detailed data for what has given Cleveland this positive position.
“This is just another reason people are choosing Cleveland everyday for their business and their home. The Moody report truely reflects that Cleveland is ‘The City with Spirit.’” Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said.
“In Nashville this week for TACIR [Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations] hearings, I had so many people come up to me and talk to me about Cleveland being a city on the move. It is heartwarming when people across the state and across the nation recognize how progressive our city is.”
Moody’s analysis serves as a good source for local entities, such as the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, that can be used when talking to the community and potential businesses for the area.
“Moody’s to me is a more respected source because they are the ones that rate a community’s ability to issue bonds. They do bonds ratings, etc.,” Farlow said.
“Cleveland is on the right track,” the analysis by Daniel Culbertson of Moody’s Analytics states.
The data shows Cleveland has increased jobs in hospitality, health care and education careers.
The analysis also stated that the Cleveland Regional Jetport and the $2 billion investment by Wacker Chemie in the area will have additional benefits to the city by making the area appealing to other “high tech manufacturers.”
“The goal of economic development is to raise the standard of living in the community,” Gary Farlow, Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce president, said. “These [Moody’s analytics] indicators are good indicators and it’s an unbiased source.”
According to Farlow, many best or worst places to live listings may focus on one indicator.
A document like the Moody’s Analytics data gives a broader view of how the city’s economy is doing and where it is headed. The data gives projected totals for 11 indicators through 2018. These include indicators like population, housing costs and employment rate.
Berry said the goal of Moody’s analysis is to see “can the economy sustain the government.”
“I put more weight in these kind’s of rankings then I do from trade associations many times,” Berry said.
Berry said community partnerships contribute greatly to the positive economic indicators reflected in the report.
In comparing this year’s report with one from 2007, Berry said the data reflects a positive difference in the outlook for Cleveland.
The cost of doing business and the cost of living “are strong elements in the competitions between regions,” Berry said.
According to the report, the cost of living in Cleveland is 93 percent of the national average. The cost of doing business in Cleveland is 82 percent of the national average, according the report.
Berry said businesses are looking for areas were they will have a low risk.
“When Moody’s is giving you risk ratings that say you are in the upper … 40 percent of the total MSA [Metropolitan Statistical Area] in the country for providing stability, a risk free environment then that’s something companies pay attention to,” Berry said.
Farlow said programs that make college degree opportunities more accessible to students are a part of a stable economy.
“Employment growth is basically going to tell a business that you have a … community that can attract outside labor,” Berry said. “Are people willing to move here if we have the jobs here? And the indictors today are yes.”
Risk factors also measure a community’s ability to have the needed labor force to support business and economy.
“When I read this, I didn’t really see anything I disagreed with, which tells me it is consistent with what I see,” Berry said.
Workforce development continues to be a needed area of focus. Berry said this is something the Chamber continues to work on with local schools and colleges.
The report is projecting modest growth for Cleveland.
“We are not going to explode out of control. This is going to be what is typically … Southeast Tennessee generally moves forward at a modest pace,” Berry said.
Area Development Online also listed Cleveland number 32 for small metros and 127th out of 379 for all metros.